March 2011 - Unsecured Loads

Safety Alert Type: 
Booming and Towing
British Columbia
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
BC Forest Safety Council
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

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Unsecured Loads

In 2007 the industry suffered a fatality in which an equipment operator was killed after suffering head trauma following a rollover. In 2010 a number of incidents reported to the BCFSC also mentioned that loose material inside the vehicle or cab contributed to additional injuries to the occupant.

When a vehicle or piece of equipment is being operated under normal conditions the unsecured loads may present a minimal hazard. However, in a rollover situation these loads can make a dangerous incident deadly.

Rollovers are more likely to happen on a gravel road than on paved surfaces. Since the majority of forestry work requires driving on resource roads, extra care is required.

In a roll over event, the contents of the vehicle or equipment become dislodged and are thrown around the cab. Your dog, a passenger not wearing a seat belt or that thermos of coffee on the seat next to you all become projectiles.

Occupational health & safety regulation (16.35) for mobile equipment states

“The operator must maintain the cab, floor and deck of mobile equipment free of material, tools or other objects which could create a tripping hazard, interfere with the operation of controls, or be a hazard to the operator or other occupants in the event of an accident.”


Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Do a visual inspection of your vehicle interior.
  • Secure all cargo inside and outside the vehicle. If possible, use the truck bed instead of the backseat.
  • Secure the contents inside the cab of the equipment. Test the securing mechanisms for fire extinguishers and essential tools. If the equipment cannot be safely fastened, affix the items within reach outside of the cab.
  • Pets and people count too! Regulation requires pets to be transported in a suitable carrier or securely fastened to the vehicle. For people, wearing a seatbelt is the law.
  • Keep the interior free of garbage and personal items.
  • Include a visual check for potential rollover hazards on your safety inspection form.

An unbuckled 68 kg (150 lbs) adult involved in a 50 km/h frontal crash with a stationary object will strike other occupants, the interior of the vehicle or be ejected with the equivalent force of a 3.5 ton truck!


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