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Worker killed by trench cave-in in Pennsylvania.

Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 85-20, 1985 Jun; :1-5
A case study of a trench fatality was examined. A 33 year old supervisor and a 26 year old laborer were installing 6 inch by 12 foot long drainage pipe sections in a vertical walled trench. The exterior sewer lines had been excavated, connected, and backfilled the day before the accident. The crew was digging a trench using a backhoe with an 18 inch wide bucket; the backhoe was working about 20 feet in front of the crew, excavating the trench for another section. At the time of the incident, the supervisor and laborer were in the trench laying and connecting the plastic drainage pipe. The laborer was standing on the ground surface about 1.5 feet from the edge of the trench when the ground beneath moved him down and into the trench; the ground also completely covered the supervisor. The laborer was covered to the mid chest area. An evaluation revealed that the material excavated from the trench had been placed on the ground opposite the cave in site. The trench was excavated with vertical walls and shoring systems were not used. The emergency squad was notified approximately 1 minute after the collapse. Efforts to resuscitate the victim were unsuccessful and the supervisor was pronounced dead on arrival at the local hospital. The authors recommend that any excavation that is greater than 5 feet in depth should be shored, shielded, or sloped in accordance with the NIOSH/National Bureau of Standards recommended draft construction safety standards for excavations. Safety programs should be developed that minimally include a written safety policy, assign responsibilities to all areas of supervision, and hold supervisory personnel accountable for these safety responsibilities, employee safety training, accident investigation procedures, and emergency planning.
NIOSH-Author; Sewage-industry; Epidemiology; Industrial-environment; Accident-prevention; Industrial-exposures; Safety-equipment; Accident-potential; Analytical-models; Accident-analysis; Workplace-studies; Region-3; FACE-85-20; Construction-Search
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Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division