Pssssst! Free occupational safety data!

Do you love databases? Especially if you are interested in safety, there are a number of carefully archived databases of events out there. A couple of years ago, I found one of these while trying to answer the question “What kinds of human factors interventions would be most increase agricultural safety?” Six months of coding later, I had some answers and a good direction for my research program*.

The posts describing the databases I have found are long, so I will spread them out over multiple posts under the category “Databases.” Today’s database is…

The Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Progam – NIOSH

This database from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health covers fatal accidents in a number of areas with a standard interview and evaluation for each case. These are rich descriptions with the added benefit of having an expert in that field try to assess what went wrong. Some of the areas they cover are highway work zones, agriculture, commercial fishing, commercial aviation, construction, and logging. Each case includes a summary, descriptions, pictures, analysis, and recommendations to prevent a re-occurrence. Here is an excerpt of one of their cases:

Summary

Mid-spring 2005, a 29-year-old man died when the tractor he was operating overturned upside down pinning him underneath (Photo 1). The 40-year-old tractor had a narrow (tricycle) front axle. It did not have a rollover protective structure (ROPS). A front-end loader was attached to the tractor’s frame but no counter-weights had been installed for ballast. The loader with its bucket full of rocks was raised to nearly hood height. The tractor leaned to the right as the man steered it forward at a slight upward angle on a slope. The position of the heavy load, the absence of ballast, the tractor’s configuration, the dynamics of the tractor-loader combination and its load in transport on the sloping, uneven terrain contributed to the sudden overturn of this tractor. ROPS and use of the seat belt would likely have prevented this man’s death.

Photo 1 – Tractor without ROPS at scene of overturn. Note the rocks spilled from the loader bucket and height of the loader bucket relative to the tractor’s hood.

Photo 1 – Tractor without ROPS at scene of overturn. Note the rocks spilled from the loader bucket and height of the loader bucket relative to the tractor’s hood.

RECOMMENDATIONS based on our investigation are as follows:

  • Agricultural tractors should be equipped with a rollover protective structure (ROPS) and the seat belt should be used, except with foldable or retractable ROPS in their down or retracted position.
  • ROPS should be designed and readily available for all makes and models of agricultural tractors in common use..
  • Front-end loaders should not be installed on narrow-front (“tricycle”) tractors that do not have a ROPS.
  • Operators handling heavy loads should follow manufacturer recommendations for proper equipment, set up, ballasting, and safe operating practices.

And that’s just the summary! You can look at cases by state, by cause and any number of other variables.

John presenting poster at HFES 2009

John presenting poster at HFES 2009