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Preventing Injuries When Working with Hydraulic Excavators and Backhoe Loaders

November 2003
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2004-107
Quick-disconnect excavator bucket that detached from the excavator stick.

A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) review of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) data identified 346 deaths associated with excavators or backhoe loaders during 1992–2000 [NIOSH 2002]. Review of these data and of NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) cases [NIOSH 2000, 2001] suggests two common causes of injury: (1) being struck by the moving machine, swinging booms, or other machine components; or (2) being struck by quick-disconnect excavator buckets that unexpectedly detach from the excavator stick. Other leading causes of fatalities are rollovers, electrocutions, and slides into trenches after cave-ins.