Skidder Accidents Injure and Kill Woods Workers
In recent years, three woodworkers died and several were seriously injured
while assisting a skidder operator on a conventional logging operation. In
each instance, the skidder operator had started to winch the load while a
co-worker was still in the area.
During a winching operation, trees are pulled toward the skidder and can
become snagged or pulled up against another tree, a stump or part of
the skidder. Tension builds on the winching cables and the logs can either
swing out to the side, or over the skidder, striking anyone in the area with a
very strong force.
These incidents can be prevented by following some simple precautions.
Recommended Preventive Action
The employer must ensure a reliable and tested communication plan
exists between the chain saw operator and the skidder operator and
A skidder operator must not winch trees or logs until the co-worker is standing clear and has signalled the operator accordingly.
The signalling should be done visually. However, when visibility is hampered, communication should be ensured with two-way radios or a horn. [General Regulation 91-191, paragraphs 357(3)(a&b)]
The skidder operator must verify the location of the person(s) assisting
the operator before moving the skidder. [General Regulation 91-191,
paragraph 357 (3) (f)]
- Anyone assisting a skidder operator should ensure that they are positioned at least twice the distance away of the longest log.
- The operator does a full-circle or 360 degree check before engaging the winch.
- Always install chokers as close as possible to the end of the trees being winched.
Operators must ensure that the skidder brakes are engaged and the blade is lowered to increase stability before winching the load.
It is unsafe to drive and winch at the same time. [General Regulation 91-191, paragraph 357(3)(e)]
Revised March 2022.
- Operators must ensure that the skidder brakes are in good working order. [General Regulation 91-191, paragraph 224(c)]
The skidder must have a completely enclosed operator’s cab that is
designed to prevent objects from intruding into the cab and to prevent
the operator and any passengers in the cab from being thrown outside
the cab. [General Regulation 91-191, paragraph 345.6]
The skidder must be equipped with at least two safe and unobstructed
means of access and egress that are not located on the same side of
the cab. [General Regulation 91-191, paragraph 345.4(1)]
Employees must wear high-visibility clothing such as required in CSA
standard Z96-15 (High Visibility Safety Apparel) or a standard offering
equivalent or better protection, and high visibility safety headgear.
[General Regulation 91-191, paragraph 346 (a)]
- Take special precautions when working in select cut operations. This situation is inherently dangerous because of decreased visibility, greater risk of logs binding up against standing trees, and a false sense of security that other standing trees offer protection. Identify any hazards and take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of everyone working in these types of operations.