Construction Worker Suffers Fatal Accident Due to Poorly Maintained Equipment

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on October 2, 2017

Construction Expert WitnessThis case involves a construction worker in New Mexico who was fatally injured by a skid steer loader that he was operating. At the time of the incident in question, the man was using the loader to move dirt around a construction site. At some point, the loader fell into a large trench that had been dug at the construction site, throwing the driver out of the cab and crushing him under the weight of the machine. After the accident occurred, the loader was inspected, at which point it was discovered that the several critical safety features had been disabled on the machine. These features include the vehicle’s “safety bar,” which secures the driver inside of the cab of the vehicle and normally prevents the machine from functioning if it is not in proper working order. It is alleged that the safety bar had been tampered with, and that the driver would not have been thrown from the vehicle if the bar had been in working order.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Are you familiar with skid steer loaders?

Expert Witness Response E-007975

I am familiar with the skid steer mentioned in this case. I am also familiar with the function and reason for the safety bar, and the interlock with parking brake. As described it does seem to be a maintenance issue, or was purposely disconnected. The safety bar operates similar to a roller coaster safety bar, in that it is supposed to keep the operator in place in case of a rollover event. I have performed inspections of similar equipment and I am available to inspect this as well. I have a strong design and manufacturing background in transportation vehicles. Since consulting, I have experience with various material handling equipment, including forklifts, fork trucks, and construction equipment (front end loaders, backhoes, etc). I also have a solid safety features and inspection background and can assess the intended operation and condition of equipment. I also am very familiar with safety standards and regulations. I have a Masters degree in mechanical engineering, and have been deposed and testified in arbitration.

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