Pipefitter Struck by Pressurized Pipe and Killed, Oregon

Oregon Case Report: 18OR030
Release Date: July 8,  2020


On March 6, 2018, a 49-year-old pipefitter was hit in the chest by a pressurized 12-inch diameter polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe during a hydrostatic pressure test of a fire suppression system. The sudden pipe movement was attributed to a pipe joint connection failure in a buried section of the pipeline. The failure was due to torque shear bolts at the joint connection that were not tightened, which was missed during the utility installation process and the work inspection prior to the incident.


  • Employers should ensure employees do not work on pressurized water systems.
  • Pipe systems should be pressure-tested and inspected before pipes are backfilled. Use checklists during tasks and the inspection process to reduce risk of overlooking critical steps that could endanger workers.
  • Prime contractors should establish a realistic project schedule in collaboration with subcontractors.
  • Prime contractors should develop and follow a communication plan so that subcontractors are made aware of project design modifications in a timely manner and to work out how design changes will impact project schedule, so as not to compromise workplace safety.
  • Employers should provide written procedures to employees prior to performing the work, and ensure employees receive adequate training so they understand the hazards and how to execute procedures safely.

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Page last reviewed: September 11, 2020