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Heavy equipment operator dies when excavator slips down a hill and becomes buried in mud 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 97CA005, 1997 Aug; :1-3
A 39-year old heavy equipment operator (decedent) died when his excavator slid over a hill and was buried in mud. The decedent was scooping mud from a desilting pond with the excavator bucket and placing the mud in a scraper/loader. He was working at the edge of a 20-foot embankment with his tracks parallel to the edge of the hill. The decedent had just dumped a load of mud into the scraper/loader. As he swung the bucket around to pick up another load of mud, the track of the excavator nearest the scraper/loader lifted off the ground. As the decedent was attempting to stabilize the excavator, it slid down the side of the hill and the cab side was buried in the mud. Before the heavy equipment operator could be extricated from the cab, he was suffocated by the mud. The CA/FACE investigator concluded that, in order to prevent future occurrences, employers should: 1. ensure when equipment operators are working at the edge of an embankment the tracks of their machine are placed a safe distance away from the edge. 2. implement a formal, written program that provides the correct procedure for operating an excavator.
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; Protective-measures; Equipment-operators; Safety-programs; Occupational-safety-programs
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-97CA005; 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