A bulldozer operator in Western Australia recently sustained serious injuries to their leg after being crushed between a hydraulic access staircase and handrail that were attached to the bulldozer.
The operator had just completed a pre-work inspection of the job site with their leading hand and was accessing the bulldozer via the stairs when the stairs began to raise unexpectedly.
The operator attempted to get clear of the moving stairs by jumping to the platform alongside the operator’s cabin, but was trapped between the handrail and the moving staircase.
The leading hand saw that the operator was trapped and used a spanner to remove the handrail from the bulldozer and free the operator prior to site emergency response personnel arriving and providing assistance.
The operator was airlifted to hospital for treatment of crush injuries to their leg.
In a subsequent incident alert, it was noted that there were multiple modifications to the wiring of the bulldozer which were not compliant with the requirements for installation of the hydraulic staircase.
There was a poor wiring termination on a modification allowing the switching wire for the hydraulic staircase to earth, triggering unexpected staircase movement.
The alert subsequently recommended a number of actions to assist in the safe operation of heavy mobile equipment:
Ensure that all modifications to plant are assessed, undertaken and tested by competent persons prior to being put into operation.
Undertake an inspection and audit of plant with an actuated ladder or staircase to ensure that non-compliant or poorly installed wiring cannot trigger an unexpected movement of the access ladder or staircase.