Trucker dies in steel cargo accident

| 7/3/2007

A trucker was killed while unloading his flatbed last week in suburban Seattle.

Police say Thomas Collins, 49, of Bremerton, WA, was killed at about 10:10 a.m. on Monday, June 25, as he unloaded a 2,500-pound piece of steel at a manufacturing yard in Pacific, WA, in southern King County about 30 miles from Seattle.

Collins was unloading a piece believed to be part of a large table when the load moved as he loosened one of two straps holding the cargo, according to Jane Montgomery, a spokeswoman with the Pacific Police Department.

Investigators believe Collins was killed instantly as he loosened one strap. The other strap broke during the trip, Montgomery said.

“I think one of the straps had broken in transit,” Montgomery told Land Line Magazine. “It shifted and fell.”

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries is investigating the incident as a workplace fatality, Montgomery said. Collins worked for Nelson Trucking Co. of Seattle, she said.

Phone messages left by Land Line at the state labor department’s media relations division were not immediately returned Tuesday.

OOIDA Member Charley Parfrey of Spokane Valley, WA, has lobbied federal officials and Washington state leaders to “try to get somebody to do something” to strengthen load securement regs for flatbeds.

Parfrey said he’s seen slabs of marble injure drivers because straps and binders on flatbeds weren’t tightened, and has even seen steel coils fall to the road because they weren’t secured at all.

Regulations should go further to prevent truckers from being lackadaisical about load securement, Parfrey said.

Parfrey said he recommends chains for drivers hauling heavy cargo with sharp corners and edges.

Until driver behavior changes, he’ll continue meeting with insurance company representatives, Washington State Police, trucking groups and shippers to persuade them of the dangers of improper securement.

“I’m trying to get somebody to recognize the fact that somebody needs to step up to the plate and say, ‘look here Mr. Shipper, this is the design we recommend, the weights it will carry and you have to carry them accordingly.’ ”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer