Safety Tips FACE Reports

FACEValue: Mechanic killed by excavator bucket

Case report: OR 2008-01-1*

Issued by: Oregon Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program

Date of incident: January 2008

A 47-year-old mechanic was killed by an excavator bucket during a maintenance operation. The conveyor on a portable rock crusher had stopped working, and the mechanic was attempting to attach the frame of the conveyor to the lifting eye on an excavator bucket when the excavator boom dropped and swung, crushing him. The excavator operator’s coat had caught on the control handle for the boom, activating it. The employer hired experienced heavy equipment operators and provided on-the-job training and observation to confirm operator skills. Daily toolbox meetings and weekly safety meetings were conducted.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Loose clothing should be avoided when operating machinery, and all tools and equipment should be stored outside the cab.
  • Eliminate or reduce worker exposure to hazards by installing or purchasing equipment with protective features such as “quick connects” or built-in anchor points.
  • Employers should conduct and document workplace hazard assessments to include all job tasks and ensure safe work procedures are followed.
  • Use a dedicated signalperson in complex and limited-sight lifts and picks.
  • During lifting operations, individuals working near the point of operation should reposition themselves away from pinch points and the potential swing pivot area of machinery.
  • Employers should ensure workers are trained to perform best safety practices in each role during lifting operations with heavy machinery.