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Pipefitter dies when excavation wall collapses, causing water tank to rotate and pin him against excavation wall.

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 12MI121, 2013 Oct; :1-15
In fall 2012, a male sprinkler fitter/pipe fitter in his 40s died when he was struck by and pinned against the wall of an excavation by a water tank which had pivoted due to an excavation wall collapse. The excavation was dug by another contractor, who was the designated competent person. The soil was water saturated clay. Two feet of fill sand was atop the clay. The excavation had been partially completed the day prior to the incident and completed the day of the incident. The excavation was approximately 40 feet long by 14 feet wide by 14 feet deep. The excavation walls were nearly vertical and were not shielded or shored against collapse. It rained the night prior to the incident. On the day of the incident, the excavator operator lowered an empty 20,000-gallon, 10-foot-wide by 37-foot-long by 8-foot-high water tank that weighed approximately 5,700 pounds onto a one-foot-deep sand base. The tank was anchored via tie down straps to concrete deadman anchors. The decedent and another coworker were on the east side of the excavation getting ready to exit when the northwest corner of the excavation collapsed into the excavation causing the tank to pivot in a clockwise direction. The decedent was pinned by the tank against the east wall of the excavation. The excavator operator moved the tank to the west, freeing the decedent. Coworkers administered CPR while emergency responders were enroute. Emergency responders entered the excavation and continued resuscitative efforts. The decedent was declared dead at the scene. Factors: 1. Excavation walls inadequately sloped/shored 2. Qualified person and employee training inadequate 3. Soil conditions.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Construction; Author Keywords: Construction; Trench; Excavation; Wall Collapse; Water Tank
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-12MI121; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008466
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