Hanford worker goes for wild ride in portable toilet

By Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldOctober 20, 2011 

A forklift operator learned the value of knocking first after he moved a Hanford portable toilet with a Teamster still in it.

On Oct. 5, a forklift operator near Hanford's D and DR reactors picked up the chemical toilet to move it to a new location, unaware that it was occupied, according to an occurrence report filed with the Department of Energy.

The driver lifted the outhouse 12 to 18 inches off the ground and backed it up about 15 feet across a gravel haul road. The door was against the loading rack of the forklift, trapping the Teamster inside.

The driver set the chemical toilet down to secure it to the loading rack, and when he got out of the forklift cab, he heard the Teamster inside. The report didn't indicate what the Teamster was saying.

The operator immediately backed up the forklift so the Teamster could open the door.

"It was one of those situations where it's hard not to laugh," said Todd Nelson, spokesman for Washington Closure Hanford. But Hanford officials are taking the incident seriously because of the potential for harm to the worker.

Fortunately, he was not hurt, Nelson said.

"We used it as an opportunity to reinforce with employees the need to follow procedures, check and double check surroundings and work areas for safety hazards, and clear work areas of nonessential personnel before starting work," Nelson said.

Before the forks had been moved underneath the chemical toilet, the fork lift operator had looked at the door and thought the occupancy indicator was green, showing that no one was using it.

"However, the faded colors of the indicator caused by weathering may have contributed to the event," the report said.

A stop-work order was issued on the transportation of chemical toilets and lifted later the same day.

* More Hanford news at hanford news.com

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