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Apprentice lineman dies when the vibratory plow he was operating struck a high pressure natural gas line.

NIOSH 2007 Oct; :1-12
December 19, 2006, a 27-year-old male lineman was killed when the Flextrak 75 vibratory plow he was operating struck a 24-inch diameter high-pressure natural gas line. The decedent was a member of a three-person crew installing a transformer, and an underground secondary and primary service for two residential homes. The electrical company had contacted MISS DIG to identify all underground lines. The work area had been "staked" as clear by both a television and telephone provider. The MISS DIG ticket response inquiry indicated that one of the two natural gas companies contacted had provided a Positive Response. The gas company provider whose pipeline was involved in the incident did not make a Positive Response. Beginning at the transformer location, the decedent began to plow the cable approximately 36 inches deep into the ground, heading south towards a corner marker where he had to make a 90-degree turn to the west. Approximately 58 yards after he turned the corner, the vibratory plow hit a 24-inch high-pressure natural gas pipeline that was buried approximately 36 to 40 inches below the existing grade. The rupturing pipeline created an explosion throwing dirt and debris into the air and created an 80-foot crater. His coworkers, who were uninjured, called 911. After the explosion occurred, Coworker #1 and Coworker #2 noticed two yellow natural gas pipeline markers at the edge of the road. Approximately eight hours later, the pressure in the line was stabilized and reduced to a condition so firefighters could approach the crater to remove the decedent and the vibratory plow from the crater. The decedent was pronounced dead at the scene. Recommendations: 1. Employers conducting excavating or tunneling operations should ensure employees receive hazard recognition training pertaining to utility markers. 2. Employers conducting excavating or tunneling operations should instruct and ensure employees conduct a thorough site inspection to determine if all potential underground utilities are marked prior to beginning digging operations. 3. Employers conducting excavating or tunneling operations should contact MISS DIG if public utilities/agencies listed on the MISS DIG ticket have not marked their lines or provided a Positive Response in response to the MISS DIG request. 4. Employers conducting excavating or tunneling operations should describe the area to be staked as specifically as possible when calling MISS DIG. 5. Michigan Public Act 53 of 1974, Protection of Underground Facilities should be amended to reflect damage prevention Common Ground Alliance (CGA) Best Practices Version 4.0 as applicable to each stakeholder group.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Work-performance; Safety-monitoring; Safety-programs; Work-operations; Safety-programs; Training; Gas-industry; Warning-signs; Electrical-industry; Electrical-workers; Construction-equipment; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Equipment-operators
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-06MI207; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-521205
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University