A 43-year-old construction foreman was killed when he was struck by a falling steel I-beam pile. On the day of the incident, the victim and four other workers were in the process of pile driving steel I-beam piles into several pits (each containing either three or eight piles) at the construction site of a large parking garage. The victim’s job was to stand in the pit and guide the beam that was being hoisted by the pile driver (which functions as a crane and a hammer) to the appropriate position to be hammered. While the victim was guiding the pile, the hammer dropped from its upper position before the pile was properly located. The hammer struck the pile on its side, instead of the top, and the beam fell to the side and struck the victim. Other workers attempted to provide assistance while one worker called 911. Police and rescue workers responded, and the victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
To prevent future occurrences:
- Employers should ensure that pile driver operators are properly trained on the safe operation of pile driving equipment.
- Employers should ensure that pile driver operators are periodically re-evaluated on the safe operation of pile driving equipment.
- A safety and health plan based on a job hazard analysis should be developed and followed. Employers should incorporate specific excavation procedures into the plan.