Seat belt saved roller driver from becoming a statistic
Wednesday 23 February 2005
A seat belt probably saved the life of a heavy roller driver, after the machine toppled over a steep bank near Waipara last week.
The Fulton Hogan employee was compacting soil with a vibrating heavy roller at the Kate Valley landfill near Waipara, North Canterbury, when the machine slid over a bank. The roller tumbled 20 metres down a steep slope, rolling over three times before it came to rest in some scrub.
The man, who was an experienced operator, walked away from the accident with just a black eye and some minor cuts.
The Department of Labour's occupational safety and health service investigated the accident, and found that if the driver hadn't been wearing his seat belt, he most likely would have been thrown through the smashed windscreen and then crushed by the roller.
OSH service manager for Canterbury-West Coast Margaret Radford said the roller was near new, and thankfully had a good rollover protective structure in the cab - which saved the driver from more serious injury - and a good seat belt fitted.
'If he hadn't buckled up, it could so easily have been curtains for this man. He's aware of just how lucky he was to escape more serious injury or death.'
Ms Radford said the driver had kept his head as the machine began to slide toward the edge of the bank. 'For a split second he contemplated bailing out, but knew he wouldn't have time to release his seat belt and get out safely. He had to hang in there, and ultimately that was the best decision he made that day.'
The investigation has cleared both the company and operator of any fault.
OSH is investigating a string of fatalities involving machinery rollovers. Five men have died already this year after being trapped under or thrown from tractors. The non-use of seat belts is considered to be a factor in each of the fatalities.
Ms Radford said road users were getting the message that seat belts saved lives, but the same message applied just as strongly to the operators of heavy machinery. 'Seat belts are not fitted into tractors and the like for decorative purposes. They can and do save lives, regardless of the type of vehicle and where it's being operated.'
This heavy roller was extensively damaged from its fall, but the cab was well protected (44k)
The roller came to rest, with the driver still belted in, 20m down this bank (43k)
Margaret Radford , Service Manager, OSH Canterbury,
Tel: 03 964 6314 Mobile: 027 455 5081