Safety Tips FACE Reports

FACEValue: Operator crushed when auger overturns

Case report: #11-NY-043*
Issued by: New York Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Date of incident: July 2011

A 46-year-old equipment operator working for a trenchless utility installation contractor died when a horizontal auger boring machine overturned and crushed him. The victim had been installing steel pipe casings at the time of the incident. The auger was mounted on a track assembly that was not anchored to the ground. The weight of the machine and the track assembly was 15,800 pounds. During work, the auger and track assembly suddenly pitched about 90 degrees to the left, pinning the victim against the ground. An equipment operator at the site used an excavator to move the machine off the victim. The workers were able to turn the machine off and free the victim. They performed CPR on the victim until emergency medical services arrived, but the victim died on the way to the hospital as a result of severe crushing injuries.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Ensure operators bore with the casing attached to the auger machine as required and implement other measures as needed.
  • Provide employee training on preventing horizontal auger boring machine upset.
  • Utility installation designers, engineers and managers should integrate measures to prevent auger upset at the design stage.
  • Auger boring manufacturers should consider adding more safety features to prevent injuries associated with machine upset.

*This report is the product of NIOSH’s Cooperative State partner. The findings and conclusions in each report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of NIOSH.