How to Secure Yourself in the Event of a Machine Rollover

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The accident

A worker was operating a compactor on a dirt ramp as part of a highway expansion. While she was backing the unit for another pass, the compactor slipped off the edge of the road surface and tipped, partially throwing her from the machine and pinning her underneath the rollover protective structure.

The bottom line

A post-accident investigation determined that, even though the contractor required the use of all safety equipment during machine operation, the victim was not wearing a seatbelt while working. Additionally, the enclosed cab door was latched open. When the rear tires of the compactor slipped off the edge of the ramp, the unrestrained worker was partially ejected from the open door of the cab, and then pinned underneath the compactor’s rollover protective structure. She was pronounced dead at the scene from trauma injuries to the torso.

Staying alive

Although you can’t always prevent an accident, you can take steps to avoid or minimize injury before you ever begin work.

Use your eyes and ears. Don’t be lulled into a sense of security because you’re working on a relatively flat surface at a slow pace. Stay aware of what’s in front of and behind you, and always ensure the wheels of the compactor remain in contact with the surface of the road.

Use all required safety equipment. The contractor on this job required the use of seatbelts during equipment operation, yet the worker failed to follow this instruction and was thrown from the cab during the rollover. Also, the worker had latched the door open, perhaps for comfort or visibility. Closing and latching the door during machine operation could prevent you from falling from the cab during a rollover.

Use common sense. During a rollover, it’s tempting to try to exit the cab and jump clear of the ROPS; however, this is more dangerous than remaining in the cab. The ROPS is specifically designed to help you stay alive in these situations. In the event of a rollover, don’t jump, keep your seat belt on, pull your knees and elbows in close to your body, and then hold on firmly while leaning away from the impact.