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Worker struck when bucket fell off excavator

Date of incident: April 2015
Notice of incident number: 2015166710093
Employers: House construction company; demolition company

Incident summary

Workers were demolishing a house and a garage with an excavator. The operator of the excavator was directed to remove a tree from the property. A worker walked toward the tree to assist with a chainsaw. While doing so, he walked under the boom of the excavator. At the same time, the operator of the excavator extended the boom toward the tree, and the bucket suddenly fell off and onto the worker. The worker sustained serious injuries when he was struck by the excavator bucket.

Investigation conclusions


  • Failure to properly attach excavator bucket. The unsecured bucket fell from the boom. The excavator operator had changed the bucket on the excavator a number of times on the day of the incident. He did not complete a pre-use inspection, he did not use the blocking bar, and he proceeded to use the excavator knowing it had a faulty alarm for the bucket attachment. The excavator operator did not follow the instructions provided to him in his training or in the manual.

Contributing factors

  • Failure to remedy unsafe condition. The demolition contractor was aware of the malfunctioning alarm but took no action to prevent the use of the excavator. The demolition company had a duty to ensure its equipment was functioning safely. The company failed to take appropriate corrective actions such as taking the excavator out of service and having the alarm repaired.
  • Inadequate supervision of the worksite. The worker who was injured was on site to coordinate work for the construction company. He was supervising the tree removal work. While doing this, he disregarded basic safety requirements for working around heavy equipment and walked under the excavator boom. He also had the responsibility of ensuring the excavator operator followed the safe work procedures.

Request the full report

Publication Date: Feb 2019 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2015166710093