FACEValue: Worker crushed to death

October 29, 2017

Case report: #2013-05*
Issued by: Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program
Date of incident: Dec. 16, 2012

Two excavator operators were using a tandem lift procedure to transport a 128-foot section of pipe. Both excavators were attached to the pipe with slings. The lead operator lowered his end, detached from the pipe and positioned his excavator on the left side of the pipe. He then reattached to the pipe and raised it off the ground. The operator of the rear excavator attached at the opposite end, then raised the pipe to cab height and maneuvered the excavator around the end of the pipe while swinging the boom of the excavator. When the pipe was in line with the excavator cab, the pipe plunged through the front windshield, entering the cab and striking the victim in the chest. Police, emergency medical services and the medical examiner arrived, and the operator was pronounced dead at the scene. Cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the chest.

To help prevent similar occurrences:

  • Implement a comprehensive safe work procedure for tandem lifting operations.
  • Provide training that includes hazard recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions.
  • Ensure an effective method of communication is maintained between excavator operators and ground workers.
  • Use adequate lighting during all work activities.