A 45-year-old logger working as a choke setter in a skyline yarding operation was killed after being crushed by the skyline carriage. The logging operation was a standing skyline yarder system, where the skyline was spooled off the yarder and attached to a tailhold anchor at the back end of the unit. The anchor in this place was a heavy bulldozer. The carriage riding on the skyline was a motorized skycar with radio-controlled drop lines for the chokers. The victim was new to logging and had been on the job for only one week. He was working under supervision. The carriage was returning down the skyline from the landing. As soon as the stop whistle sounded, the victim grabbed the chokers lying in the brush under the carriage, which was 8-10 feet overhead and still rolling slightly. The yarder engineer was setting the mainline brake when the line suddenly slackened, causing the carriage to drop and crush the victim. The medical investigator determined the cause of death was traumatic head injury. The victim’s blood-alcohol content level at the time of his death was 0.02.
- Ensure machine anchors are rigged correctly. No definite cause was discovered for the sudden drop in the skyline. Before yarding with a new setup, lines should be tight-lined to clear any obstruction or slack, and anchors should be rechecked for stability.
- Stay clear of rigging. The rigging crew must not approach the rigging until the carriage is stopped, and the chokers are lowered and no longer swinging. Even then workers should avoid standing directly under suspended rigging. While grabbing chokers, keep an eye on the carriage, and get in and out as quickly as possible.
- Closely supervise new workers. New worker training should discuss the reasons why a task is done in a certain way. After the explanation, the task should be demonstrated first, then performed by the new worker under strict supervision. Supervision should continue until the task is performed appropriately.
- Be aware of the effects of alcohol, even many hours after consumption. The presence of alcohol in the victim’s blood may have impacted his judgment in this case. His BAC indicated that this may have been a result of drinking alcohol the night before. The impact of a hangover can impact judgment and performance even after BAC has returned to zero.