During a pipeline coating repair and backfilling job, an operator was using a backhoe digger.
There had been heavy rain at the location and the backhoe was being operated on a steep slope.
The backhoe slipped down the hill and the operator lost control.
The backhoe hit the side of the mountain and rotated 180 degrees, coming to rest on a mound of earth.
The operator informed the control room that the backhoe was stuck and they were leaving the site.
There were no injuries or damage to the backhoe.
Why did it happen?
The working conditions were difficult – the steep slope with many stones on it combined with heavy rain to make driving conditions more difficult.
The operator did not have experience of driving the backhoe on a steep slope.
The method statements and relevant procedures for the task did not include using the backhoe on a steep slope.
Management made the wrong decision to use the slope to demobilise the equipment from the location without permission from the issuing authority.
What did they learn?
Make sure all relevant procedures and risk assessments include the mobilising of equipment and vehicles on steep slopes.
Operator competency and experience should be verified before work commences.
Only equipment that is capable of working under the conditions (weather or ground) should be used.
Ask yourself or your crew
How can something like this happen here?
What are the risks of operating equipment on slopes?
Are operators trained and experienced in driving equipment up/down slopes?
Is the equipment up to the task? How do you know?
What other hazards do we need to account for when operating backhoes/heavy machinery?
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<a href="https://safetyzone.iogp.org/HighPotentialEvents/detail.asp?id=2564" target="_blank" style="text-decoration:underline;color:#00a0e4;">Courtesy of IOGP</a>