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Exit pit worker entangled in horizontal directional drill back reamer.

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 05IA019, 2008 Jul; :1-6
A 34-year-old man was fatally injured while working in a four-man crew installing a large diameter water line along a rural Iowa roadway mid spring of 2005. The crew was using a horizontal directional drilling (HDD) machine to pilot bore and pull back pipe (the product line) underneath a wooded area. After completion of the pilot bore, the exit pit worker was alone in the exit pit 600 feet (183 m) from the drill rig operator. The worker removed the drill bit to attach a back reamer to the end of the drill rod. A pulling head was attached to the pipe and a swivel between the pulling head and the back reamer completed the connection between the HDD machine and the product line pipe. The drill rig operator radioed the exit pit worker asking if he was ready for the reamer to be rotated and for the pullback or back-reaming operation to begin. The exit pit worker responded affirmatively. Soon after engaging power, the operator radioed to learn how the reamer was progressing but there was no response. The operator halted power to the drill line and radioed for help to check on the exit pit worker. The supervisor discovered the victim's body wrapped around the drill line in the area of the pre-cutter just ahead of the back reamer. RECOMMENDATIONS: 1. Personnel must be positioned a safe distance from the drill line and reamer before the drill line is energized and rotated, and they must never step over rotating drill pipe. 2. When available, horizontal directional drilling units should be equipped with remote lockout. 3. Two-way radio communication between the entry and exit areas must be maintained at all times and the drill line must not be rotated until all personnel have been notified and acknowledgement has been made by all personnel. 4. Personnel should be trained to safely operate horizontal directional drilling equipment and supervised to ensure that they are following proper safety procedures.
Region-7; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Author Keywords: motor vehicle collision; distracted driving; cell phone; texting; Excavation-equipment
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-05IA019; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-708674; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008460
Priority Area
Services; Wholesale and Retail Trade
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Iowa Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division