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Excavator Toss Up

Posted By Near Miss Team/ Tuesday, March 5, 2019 / Print

EVENT NARRATIVE

What was the initial size-up?

I responded to a large hog processing plant on fire with an attached exposure and multiple commercial propane tanks within 10 feet of the fire building

 

Event Description

I was Incident Commander at a large hog processing plant fire. We were in the overhaul phase of the fire. An excavator was called in to remove large sections of sheet metal that collapsed inside the structure. The excavator was clearing a fire break between the exposure building and fire building. The buildings were connected by a four-foot-wide hall that had a three-foot-high concrete wall. It had sheet metal walls and a roof with wood studs. The excavator operator knocked it in on itself to clear it. As I was making my way around the building to check on the progress, I noticed two firefighters from a mutual aid engine climbing over the top of the crushed hall making their way to the front of the building. I walked over and assisted the crew while getting a report of what was completed. The excavator was working about twenty feet to the right of us. There was still a standing section of the hall between us and the excavator. Two of us were assisting a member of the crew over the wall when the excavator picked up a piece of debris and some pipe. We were struck by pipe, pinned against the wall, and thrown into a pile of sheet metal. A pipe then hit the brim of my helmet, ripping it off my head and tossing it five feet away. One firefighter was able to fall head first into a gap behind the wall after he was pinned and dragged up the wall. Fortunately, injuries were minor.


Lessons Learned

Describe the lessons learned at this event:

There should always be a spotter operating with an excavator. We should have had adequate scene lighting to illuminate the area. It's important to maintain situational awareness of debris on the ground that could become a problem with moving collapsed sections. When using large equipment have a large exclusion zone established and ensure safety officers are in place.

What specific recommendations do you have regarding the lessons learned?

We are creating a scrub (exclusion) zone around any heavy equipment operations and preventing access until excavation work is complete. We are also assigning a spotter with radio communications.

Describe the leading practices you noticed at this incident:

None reported


REPORT DETAILS

Which of the following occurred, if any:

Injury

 

Date the event occurred:

2/2019

Approximate time the event occurred:

2100

Location of the emergency/ event:

Industrial

 

Was a 360-degree size-up performed?

Yes

Which strategic mode was initially implemented?

Transitional

What was the estimated percent fire involvement of the structure?

51-75%

Was there a life hazard?

No

List any other info that was important for situational awareness. What were key indicators and factors to consider?

The excavator operator was alone with no spotter and no radio within the cab. There was smoke filling the area and no scene lighting. The only light was from flashlights.

Contributing Factors

Contributing Factors:

Human error

Communication

Not enough resources

Situational awareness

Structural or physical conditions of the building

 

Were unsafe act(s) performed?

No

 

Resources and Weather

Which of the following resources were on scene when the event took place?

Engine

How many?

6

Approximate number of personnel per unit:

2

 

Truck

How many?

2

Approximate number of personnel per unit:

2

Ambulance

How many?

1

Approximate number of personnel per unit:

2

Tanker

How many?

6

Approximate number of personnel per unit:

1

Specialty Vehicle: Excavator

How many?

1

Approximate number of personnel per unit:

1

Did the weather/environmental conditions impact operations or the event?

No

Outcomes

Were there civilian injuries or fatalities?

No

Were there any firefighter injuries?

Yes

How many firefighters with injuries?

2

If injured, did the individual:

Not receive treatment because it wasn’t necessary

 

What was the nature of their injuries?

Bruises

Was work loss time incurred because of the event?

No

Was there substantial property/equipment damage or other cost?

No

Report Idf98c3dbc-419d-474b-b63b-2f6c3e19cb61

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