FACEValue: Worker struck and killed by backhoe bucket

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Case report: #14NJ74*
Issued by: New Jersey Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE)Program
Date of incident: Winter 2014

A 34-year-old laborer died after being struck in the head by the bucket of a backhoe loader. The incident occurred in the parking lot of a health care facility during the worker’s first day on the job. The victim was helping two other workers build a retaining wall. A backhoe loader was being used to transport concrete blocks from a pile to the wall by connecting blocks to the bucket of the backhoe with a chain. The victim was standing near the backhoe loader preparing to connect a block to the bucket when the operator, unaware the victim was there, rotated the boom. The bucket struck the victim’s head and pinned him against the blocks. The victim died of blunt force head trauma. An investigation determined two contributing factors in the victim’s death: He was standing within the swing radius of the backhoe loader boom, and he was not wearing any personal protective equipment.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Have a safety and health plan in place based on the specific hazards workers may encounter.
  • Train all employees on their job-specific tasks.
  • Ensure workers wear personal protective equipment, including hard hats and high-visibility vests, when working with backhoe loaders.

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