On June 10, 2005, a 40-year-old pipelayer was struck in the head by the flying rigging of a towline that failed at an excavation site, and died 2 days later. During installation of a sewer pipeline, a hydraulic excavator, commonly called a track-hoe, pulled a 14,000 lb. steel trench shield forward inside a 14.5 ft trench, using a wire rope and hook system. The pipelayer was standing inside the shield while it was being moved. A hook attached to the track-hoe failed, causing the rigging under tension to snap loose, fly into the trench shield, and hit the pipelayer on the back of his hard hat. The victim was air evacuated to a hospital, where he later died. CAUSE OF DEATH: Head injury with skull fracture and hemorrhage RECOMMENDATIONS: 1. Hooks and other rigging fixtures should be selected and used properly to prevent loading beyond their structural capacity. 2. In a towing or lifting operation, workers should be removed from the hazard area or guarded from the reach of the rigging in the event of failure. 3. An excavation site must be inspected daily by a competent person to detect and correct hazards, particularly those related to expected loads on equipment. 4. Employers are responsible for ensuring (a) compliance with all safety rules, (b) that equipment is maintained and used according to the manufacturer's instructions, and (c) that workers are properly trained to operate equipment safely.