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Equipment operator killed when pinned to a tree by an excavator.

New York State Department of Health/Health Research Incorporated
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 06NY010, 2006 Aug; :1-8
On February 21, 2006, a 47-year-old equipment operator, who was working for an excavating company, died after he was pinned to a tree by the cab of the hydraulic excavator he was operating. At the time of the incident, the victim had been directed by the company owner to use the excavator to move dirt, clear debris, and fill a trench with sand at a residential building site. At approximately 1 p.m., the owner left the site for 20 minutes. When he came back, the owner saw that the excavator was parked over the trench and the victim had been pinned to the tree and crushed by the excavator. The excavator had a lock lever which locked the movements of the boom, arm, and excavating bucket as well as the swing function of the excavator; but the lock had not been activated. The owner immediately went to the other side of the tree, reached into the excavator and pushed the left joystick. Because the lock lever was not activated, the owner was able to turn the excavator to free the victim. As the excavator swung to free the victim, its cab pinned the owner to the other side of the tree. The owner yelled for help. Meanwhile, he was able to push the control to turn the excavator to free himself before other workers arrived. One worker called 911 and emergency medical services (EMS) arrived in minutes. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The owner suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung, and was taken by a helicopter to a hospital trauma center. He recovered and returned to work one month later. New York State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (NY FACE) investigators concluded that to help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future, employers should: 1. Ensure that equipment operators fully understand and strictly follow the safe operating procedures required by manufacturers including, but not limited to, lowering the excavator bucket to the ground and activating the swing lock before exiting the machine; 2. Conduct a job site survey during the planning phases of any construction project to identify potential hazards and develop and implement appropriate control measures to protect workers.
Region-2; 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; Equipment-design; Equipment-operators; Equipment-reliability; Training; Safety-programs; Construction-workers; Construction; Supervisory-personnel
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-06NY010; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008474
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
New York State Department of Health/Health Research Incorporated
Page last reviewed: December 11, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division