Backhoe strikes, kills worker in trench

by on February 11, 2014 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

A veteran worker was used to working in difficult conditions—Michael McDaniel had worked for the Navick, MA, department of public works for 26 years. He was used to responding to emergencies. He and five other members of an emergency-work crew were deployed the evening of Feb. 5 to a water main break. They used a backhoe to dig a trench, McDaniel and another worker got in to repair the pipe.

Then the backhoe was “accidentally pulled forward,” according to reports from town officials. That caused the backhoe’s stabilizer bar to drop into the trench, striking McDaniel and the other worker. The other worker was reportedly in stable condition at an area hospital; McDaniel succumbed to his injuries. Town officials called it a “freak accident,” but didn’t say how the backhoe was accidentally pulled forward.

For a safety official seeking to draw a conclusion, there’s a scattershot of potential answers:

  • Emergency repair in the cold, at night, on a road that required a police officer to direct traffic – you want to get out of there as quickly as possible. Was the crew in a hurry? Did the conditions surprise them, such as colder, wetter, windier, than anticipated?
  • Familiar work—There was a history of success in similar activities, and thus a crew may be complacent. That might have meant people were too close to an operating backhoe than they should have been.
  • Operator error—whether the backhoe was properly stabilized, or was knocked off balance, or someone used the boom to pull it forward accidentally—remains an option.

McDaniel is survived by a wife and a nine-year-old daughter.

Click to View Comments

Leave a Reply


Request a Free Demo

We'd love to show you how this industry-leading training system can help you develop your team. Please fill out this quick form or give us a call at 877-792-2172 to schedule your one-on-one demo with a Rapid Learning Specialist.