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Landscape Construction Laborer Compressed between Compact Excavator and Steel Beam at Residential Site—Massachusetts

Massachusetts Case Report: 18MA001
Release Date: May 7, 2020


On January 18, 2018, a 27-year-old laborer was killed while operating a compact excavator. He was using the equipment to excavate the existing crawlspace underneath a home to make space for a poured concrete foundation and a full basement. While operating the compact excavator, he became pinned between the excavator and an overhead beam. The victim was eventually discovered by the company owner. The company owner flagged down a passing motorist and a call was placed for emergency medical services (EMS). The victim was pronounced at the scene.

Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include:

  • Operating the excavator near overhead obstructions;
  • Absence of a protective cab on the excavator;
  • Lack of a comprehensive safety and health program; and
  • Working alone.

The Massachusetts FACE Program concluded that, to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should:

  • Ensure that only workers with required training and license are permitted to operate compact excavators and other regulated equipment.
  • Ensure that ride-on equipment without a protective cab are not operated in the vicinity of overhead obstructions.
  • Develop, implement, and enforce a policy that prevents employees from working alone in certain situations.
  • Ensure that a job hazard analysis is performed prior to the start of each project and updated if there is a major change in the scope of the project.
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive safety and health program that addresses hazard recognition, avoidance of unsafe conditions, and proper use of equipment.

In addition, equipment manufacturers should:

  • Adopt and implement the concept of Prevention through Design (PtD) to identify potential hazards associated with equipment and then eliminate these hazards through design changes.
  • develop a pictograph of the overhead crushing hazard and set a minimum height clearance for operating the excavator.

Landscape Construction Laborer Compressed between Compact Excavator and Steel Beam at Residential Site — Massachusetts [PDF 980 KB]