Fatal burn injury while bulldozing and burning brush

Iowa Case Report: 10IA017
Report Date: October 10, 2012

The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


A 74-year-old self-employed construction worker died in 2010 from severe burns to his upper body. The victim had been bulldozing trees and brush into a burn pile at a friend’s rural property when a fire of unknown origin started in the bulldozer and led to a 65% full-thickness circumferential burn to the victim’s upper body, arms, and head. The bulldozer operator was able to exit the machine and drove his truck to a nearby field to get help from the property owner’s son. The property owner’s son called 911, but the dispatcher could not locate the address, so the property owner drove the injured man to a local hospital less than 20 miles away. The victim was then airlifted to a level 1 burn treatment center 60 miles away. Due to the extent and severity of his burns, he was taken off life support the following day, and died one day later.

Fatal burn injury while bulldozing and burning brushpdf icon [PDF 1,056 KB]

Page last reviewed: November 18, 2015