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Construction worker killed by hydraulic excavator while working in trench.

Iowa Department of Public Health
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 96IA008, 1996 Sep; :1-3
A 26-year-old construction worker was killed while working in an 8-foot deep trench, trying to remove a concrete sewer casing. He was part of a crew constructing new sanitary sewer lines along a residential street. The victim was standing inside an iron trench box, while a hydraulic excavator was being used to remove the concrete casing around a sewer pipe in the trench box. The victim was giving hand signals to a co-worker operating the excavator above him because it was impossible for the operator to see the bottom of the trench where the casing was located. While pulling off the encasement, the bucket teeth slipped off the edge of the concrete and the excavator arm and bucket swung toward the victim, crushing him against the metal side of the trench box. The excavator operator immediately moved the bucket away from the wall and went to aid his co-worker, who was still conscious. The man soon became unresponsive and was pronounced dead approximately one hour later in a local hospital from severe internal chest injuries. Recommendations based on our investigation were as follows: 1. Machine operators should keep machine attachments at a safe distance from workers at all times. 2. Employers should train workers regarding safety when working in close proximity to heavy machinery. 3. Alternative working methods should be considered to eliminate the need to work close to a hydraulic bucket while in a trench box.
Region-7; 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; Construction; Construction-equipment; Construction-industry; Construction-materials; Construction-workers; Equipment-operators; Equipment-reliability; Training; Machine-operation; Machine-operators
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-96IA008; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-708674
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Iowa Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division