Field Manager Struck by Vehicle in Active Roadway While Taking Depth Measurement, Michigan
Michigan Case Report: 18MI072
In Spring 2018, a male field manager for underground-equipment-locating operations in his 40s died when he was struck by a vehicle while taking a drilling depth measurement in an active north-south roadway with a speed limit of 50 mph. The north-south roadway had two traffic lanes with a middle (center) lane. At a nearby intersection, the southbound roadway widened to two lanes and the northbound two-lane wide roadway narrowed to one lane. The posted speed limit was 50 mph. There had been a water tap break on the west side of the roadway. The Department of Public Works (DPW) foreman instructed two workers to place temporary traffic control signs (“Work Zone Ahead” and “Work Zone Begins”) on each side of the roadway. Channelizing devices were placed on the east and west fog lines of the roadway in the work zone; both the northbound and southbound travel lanes were open to active traffic. A DPW subcontractor dug an excavation on the west side of the roadway and then dug a second excavation on the east side of the roadway. A directional boring machine was set up on the west side. The plan was to bore under the roadway, west to east, pull the new water pipe through and then make the connection. While the boring took place, the location and depth of the bore were monitored. The decedent and a coworker, who worked for a company that developed, manufactured and marketed instruments for underground locating were at the site to demonstrate their new locating equipment. The decedent and his coworker placed sensors on both sides of the road to assist with locating the boring head. Throughout the boring operation, the decedent had walked back and forth across the open traffic lanes, assessing the depth and location of the bore head, demonstrating the new underground locating equipment. Checking the bore depth one last time, the decedent took an older piece of equipment into the northbound travel lane. He placed the equipment on the roadway and bent over facing west to read the results. A vehicle travelling in the open northbound lane at approximately 55 mph neared the work zone. A worker ran toward the vehicle yelling and waving his hands and hard hat. The vehicle struck the decedent, propelling him in the air. He landed on the asphalt. Emergency response arrived and transported the decedent to a nearby hospital. He died several days later from the injuries sustained at the time of the crash. The decedent was wearing a Class 2 high-visibility vest at the time of the incident.
MIFACE identified the following key and possibly contributing factors:
- Lack of hazard recognition
- Temporary traffic control not appropriate for roadway speed limit, traffic volume, and work being performed
- Worker in active roadway without a dedicated spotter or flagger