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Laborer drowns in flooded pipeline after water main was ruptured by a backhoe in California.

Public Health Institute
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 92CA007, 1995 Jun; :1-4
A 28 year old, white, Hispanic male laborer (victim) drowned after the pipe in which he was working flooded when a water main was ruptured by a backhoe, releasing 5000 gallons of water into the pipeline. The victim was working with a welder inside a 27 inch pipeline which was under construction. The welder was welding inside the pipeline and the victim had been grouting the joints. A backhoe was operating a short distance away, and the operator was excavating the area when he struck a water line. The welder was able to escape before the water flooded the pipeline, but the victim was trapped inside the pipeline. The California FACE investigator concluded that in order to prevent future similar occurrences, employers should: 1. develop a comprehensive safety program that clearly documents procedures for safe entry into confined spaces. 2. provide lifelines and harnesses, and ensure that workers wear them before entering confined spaces where physical hazards such as drowning are present. 3. position a trained standby person outside of confined spaces when a worker enters or works inside. The standby person should visually monitor the tasks being performed inside and should be able to communicate with the workers inside the confined space. 4. not have a backhoe operating or excavation work being performed near workers in a sub-surface confined space when sub-surface structures and/or soil conditions are unknown.
Region-9; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Construction; Construction-equipment; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Personal-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Confined-spaces
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-92CA007; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-907284
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Public Health Institute
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division