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Owner of excavating company dies when excavator overturns into water/mud of gravel pit.

NIOSH 2006 Aug; :1-13
On February 18, 2005, a 49-year-old male excavating company owner died when the excavator he was operating overturned into a gravel pit pond. After digging one exploratory hole to determine soil content and finding its contents unacceptable, he backfilled the hole. He told his workers he intended to go to the other side of the pit to dig another exploratory hole. His two coworkers left to explore the area. Instead of using the road that circled the top of the pit, he drove the excavator on the 20-degree sloped bank along the water's edge with the bucket somewhat elevated and the excavator's cab door toward the water. Snow and ice on the bank was approximately four inches deep. As he was traveling, the bank sheared away, causing the excavator to tip over. The cab was completely submerged in the mud and water. His coworkers returned and found excavator overturned in the mud and water. Coworker #1 entered the water/mud, found the victim trapped in the cab and attempted to rescue him. Failing in this rescue attempt, he called 911. Coworker #2 called for a wrecker service to raise the excavator. By the time emergency response arrived, three public service answering points (PSAPs) had become involved in the rescue attempt. After approximately one hour, the excavator was raised and the victim was taken to a local hospital where he was declared dead. Recommendations: A. Primary Prevention: 1. Ground conditions should be visually inspected and evaluated to ensure stability prior to moving/positioning mobile equipment. 2. When traveling across slopes, keep bucket position in the uphill direction and in the lowest position possible. 3. Keep hazard exposure to cab side at a minimum. 4. Ensure health and safety program includes emergency preparedness issues, such as access for emergency personnel to remote sites. B: Response Activities Recommendations: 1. Wrecker companies involved in heavy equipment recovery should ensure that their tow truck operators are appropriately trained and that equipment, such as booms and chains have been weight-certified. 2. Employers should determine if their employee-issued wireless cellular handsets/communication devices have global positioning system (GPS) technology. 3. County and local public service answering points (PSAPs) meet to identify the nearest emergency responders based upon potential emergency call locations.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Work-performance; Construction-workers; Construction-equipment; Construction; Construction-industry; Excavation-equipment
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-05MI024; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-521205
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University