FACE Reports

FACEValue: Construction worker dies in trench collapse

Case report: #15KY031*
Issued by: Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program
Date of incident: June 11, 2015

A 19-year-old construction worker, a foreman and three other laborers were laying sewage pipe in a trench on the day of the incident. The trench measured a depth of 12 feet, 2 inches and covered an area of 5 feet by 48 feet. A trench box measuring 8 feet deep and covering an area of 2 feet by 16 feet had been placed into the trench. The trench box walls were 4 feet, 2 inches too short. A section of spoil pile and concrete gave way, burying the 19-year-old and trapping another laborer from the waist down. The second laborer was extracted after four-and-a-half hours; the victim required two additional hours of extraction and was pronounced dead at the scene.

To help prevent similar occurrences:

  • Trench boxes should have a wall height greater than or equal to the wall height of the surrounding trench.
  • A pre-jobsite hazard analysis should be performed before work begins.
  • Employers should ensure a competent person is on the jobsite before starting work and that he or she receives regular refresher training to maintain competent person status.
  • Ensure all employees receive proper trench safety training.

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