Log truck compensator failure results in spilled load, smashed pickup truck and injuries

Safety Alert Type: 
Log Hauling
Akolkolex Forest Service Road (near Revelstoke BC)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Downie Timber Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A Woodlands employee was travelling (to 16km on the Crawford) to visit a timber sale. He was monitoring the radio and communicating his location with logging trucks on the road enroute.

The employee heard a loaded logging truck call their location at 5km and proceeded to clear the road by backing into a wide landing at the bottom of the 4km hill (at 3.5km). His truck was fully clear of the switchback and parked on the other side of the ditch. He watched the loaded truck coming down the hill and the woodlands employee and the driver were chatting as the truck entered the turn of the switchback.

Just as the loaded truck was entering the switch the driver looked in his side mirror and noticed the trailer bunk “locked up” sliding towards the left. The trailer did not slide more than 15-20 metres, neither the woodlands employee or the driver is sure what happened next; the trailer pulled apart and the bundled load was spilled from the rear axle of the truck (still fully contained by wrappers) and struck the woodlands employee’s cleared pick up across the hood and windshield (see photos in attached pdf).

The woodlands employee was shaken up and reported a sore neck (and later - by the time the supervisors arrived on the scene to investigate) a bit of a headache. The employee was taken to hospital and diagnosed with a mild concussion.

The weather at the time of the incident was rainy with temperatures above freezing. Road conditions were muddy and wet with some small icy areas but reported as better than conditions on the previous day.

A truck inspection was completed before the first trip of the day. It was discovered on scene that the trailer pulled apart at the compensator after successfully traveling 3 other switchbacks before this point. The bolt on the compensator was found in the compensator but not in place. A nut was missing from the bunk pin. It is unclear if it was dislodged as a result of the incident or preceding it. Chains next to the compensator (shorter of the 2 sets) were in place. The safety chains normally attached to the reach were not connected to prevent binding on the switch back. The driver indicated the chains normally would be connected before travelling the highway.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Though not a legal requirement on off-highway haul routes, safety chains on the truck trailer could have prevented this incident from occurring. While there is no specific regulation requiring the use of safety chains until traveling on highways, the expectation is that they be put in place as soon as the trucks reach a mainline (ok to leave them off on short block spurs that do not have other traffic). In situations where there is a corner that is too tight, and the chains will bind, the direction is that they must add links to extend the chain and use a bungee cord to hold up the slack.

For more information on this submitted alert: 
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