On a winter day in the Pacific Northwest, two rigging crew members were setting chokers. One of them went to retrieve chokers from a dropline under a motorized carriage.

As the one crew member was retrieving the chokers, the 5 ¼” by 5 ¼” metal exhaust rain flap fell from the carriage. After dropping about 100 feet, the flap struck and penetrated the right side of the other crew member’s hard hat. The 27-year-old choker setter was seriously injured. He lost consciousness upon impact. After regaining consciousness, he was driven to a hospital by a coworker. He suffered a skull fracture and traumatic brain injury, and an injury to his right shoulder. He spent several months recuperating before returning to work.

Unsafe Conditions:
An inspection determined that the flap fell after the bolt came loose due to wear on the flap. The flap that fell was a replacement put on by the employer, and had a different design and was heavier than the original flap designed by the manufacturer.

Recommendations For Correction:
• Maintain equipment in serviceable condition and inspect it before each work shift to ensure that is.
• Defective equipment in need of repair must be reported to management as soon as possible, and such equipment must not be used until repairs are completed if there is a possible safety hazard to employees.
• You must not make any modifications or additions that affect the capacity or safe operation of the equipment without written approval of the manufacturer or a qualified engineer.
• Replace motorized carriage exhaust flaps when they show signs of excessive wear.
• Train crews that flaps can come off, presenting a falling object hazard to workers below.
• Consider securing the exhaust flap with a chain tether to the exhaust guard to ensure that should the flap come loose from the carriage it will not fall to the ground.

Courtesy of the Forest Resources Association: https://forestresources.org/