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Independent contractor dies in sewer line excavation engulfment - Alaska.

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 93AK011, 1993 Oct; :1-6
On April 12, 1993, a 34-year-old, male independent contractor (victim) was killed as a result of traumatic head and neck injuries during a sewer line excavation cave-in. The victim was repairing a sewer line at a private residence and had excavated a 12-foot deep, 15-foot long trench with 90 degree sidewalls to access the existing sewer line. The victim then called another contracting service to remove ground water/sewage that had accumulated in the trench. After this operation was completed, the victim entered the unshored trench via a ladder for another inspection. At this time the walls of the trench collapsed, and concrete slabs (from a sidewalk leading to the private residence) fell into the trench. These slabs struck the victim on the head and neck, and caused him to fall from the ladder. He was subsequently buried by the incoming soil from the trench walls. Rescuers responded to the scene, but could not locate the victim. Because of the elapsed time and the high probability that the victim was dead, a decision was made to not further endanger the lives of EMS and Fire Department personnel. The trench walls were widened and sloped to safer angles. The body of the victim was recovered approximately two and one-half hours after the cave-in. Based on the findings of the epidemiologic investigation, to prevent similar occurrences: 1. independent contractors should be aware of the potential dangers of trenching or other excavation operations and be knowledgeable about proper techniques of sloping and shoring. 2. independent contractors should be aware of the increased potential for excavation collapse due to adverse environmental factors, such as elevated levels of ground water. 3. independent contractors should be knowledgeable about job safety and always conduct a general hazard assessment prior to beginning any job or work task. 4. emergency medical services and fire rescue personnel should be knowledgeable about proper rescue techniques involving excavation sites and ensure that adequate shoring equipment is on hand at all times.
Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Region-10; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-hazards; Training; Ladders; Sewage-industry; Work-areas; Work-environment; Work-operations; Work-performance; Construction-industry; Construction-workers
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-93AK011; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-007089
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division