NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

29-Year old male Hispanic landscape laborer dies when nine foot deep trench collapses.

Michigan State University
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 06MI004, 2007 Aug; :1-10
On February 1, 2006, a 29-year old male Hispanic landscape laborer died when the two-foot wide, sixteen-foot long and nine-foot deep trench he was working in collapsed and covered him with soil. The victim and four other laborers had been hand digging the trench over a two-day period at a private residence. The victim was kneeling to inspect a broken drain pipe at the bottom of the east end of the trench. At approximately 3:00 p.m., a laborer on top of the trench saw a crack in the soil and yelled to the victim. The wall collapsed and the victim was completely covered with soil in seconds. Three laborers along with the company owner who was checking on the job began frantically hand digging to reach the victim. The fourth laborer remained above and outside of the trench. The owner stopped digging after a couple of minutes to call 911 with his cellular telephone. All four men (three laborers and company owner) continued to hand dig until the local fire and police departments arrived on the scene. Fire and police personnel continued hand digging. The victim's head was uncovered approximately 45 minutes after the trench collapse. Emergency personnel on the scene checked for vital signs. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Recommendations: 1. Employers should ensure that employees working in excavations are protected from cave-in by an adequate protection system such as shoring, sloping or excavation box designed in accordance with MIOSHA Construction Safety Standard, Part 9: Excavation, Trenching and Shoring, R408.40941. 2. Employers should ensure a qualified person inspects the excavation, adjacent areas and supporting systems on an ongoing basis, and the qualified person take the appropriate measures necessary to protect workers. 3. Employer should develop, implement and maintain a comprehensive health and safety program. 4. Employers should provide workers with training in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the required safe work practices that apply to their work environments in the language of the workers. 5. Employers should develop a trench emergency action plan that describes rescue and medical duties and ensure that all employees are knowledgeable of those procedures. 6. In addition, MIFACE recommends MISS DIG be contacted prior to excavation activities to identify the location of utilities in the area.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Work-performance; Safety-education; Safety-monitoring; Safety-programs; Training; Work-operations; Work-areas; Safety-equipment; Safety-engineering; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Excavation-equipment; Emergency-response; Emergency-treatment; Safety-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-06MI004; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008466; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-521205
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division