Cat slides on bedrock, tips over and starts fire

Safety Alert Type: 
Planning and Engineering
Site Prep off Bear FSR, Coquihalla
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
WG Shaw & Son Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

While trenching a rocky block (25-30% slope), a D7H Caterpillar broke through shallow soils and skidded down slope on the bedrock underneath, resulting in the machine going sideways over a rocky ledge and tipping slowly onto its side.

The operator managed to get out safely but had just reached the ground when a fire started under the machine. Fire extinguishers and the hand tank pumps could not reach the proper spot and the water tank - which was only 120 metres away - couldn’t stop the fire, which by then had burned through fuel lines.

A second Cat operator used his machine to quickly build a guard around the fire and that controlled it until fire crews arrived.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

• Site prep operators make decisions constantly when on rocky or gullied terrain and even after they have analyzed the situation and made a choice, there is still an element of the unknown that can cause trouble.

• Constantly test the water delivery pump. The pump on-site worked properly while filling up the water tank but had some issues during the fire, even though it was very new.

• Operating safely in a stressful situation, both operators employed quick thinking and action to keep the fire from spreading.

• Worker had to drive 30 kilometres out to the Coquihalla Highway to find cell service in order to call for aid. Test radio or cell phone reception on your work site at all times.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

WG Shaw & Son Ltd. (250) 547-6550

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