Resource Newsletter
February 2013

Safety Notes - A worker is caught in a six-foot-deep excavation while repairing a leaking water main

Incident: Caught in

Business: Public Works

Employee: Laborer

Worker injured in an oxygen tank explosion

A crew of four employees made a six-foot-deep excavation on the side of a road to repair a leaking water main. Water from the leaking pipe saturated the soil, which made the trench walls unstable. While they were working, one side of the unshored excavation partially collapsed and trapped one of the workers against a pipe, injuring her leg. Two other employees were exposed when they helped her out of the trench and finished the repair work. Shoring was available to protect the workers, but was not used.

Applicable standards

1926.652(a)(1): Employees in an excavation were not protected from a cave-in by an adequate protective system.

1926.651(h)(1): Employees were working in an excavation in which there was accumulated water.

1926.651(c)(2): A safe means of egress was not located in an excavation that was four feet or more in depth.

1926.651(k)(2): When the competent person found evidence of a possible cave-in, exposed employees were not removed.