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Worker injured during hydrovac operations due to inadequate protective equipment

  • What happened?

    A worker excavating frozen soil using a seven-foot straight tip wand, received a surface laceration and minor burn to the top of the foot.

    The worker’s right foot became stuck in mud, causing the worker to stumble and move the wand on top of his foot. The high-pressure water cut the boot above the protective steel toe.

    Worker lost footing
  • Why did it happen?

    Cause: The worker was wearing rubber steel toe boots that did not provide adequate protection from the hot, high pressure water (650C at 2000 PSI).

    Contributing factors: The wand was not equipped with a handle for proper hand placement and did not have a shut-off valve.

    Workers rubber foot after impact
  • What did they learn?

    • Communicate to hydro-vac contractors the need for metatarsal foot protection when using a straight tip wand.
    • Hydro-vac contractors should use wands with handles that provide adequate grip and a method to stop the flow of water at the wand.
    • Owners, prime contractors and employers should assess each scope of work for its specific hazards; ensure proper communication to the work force when changing conditions require specialized personal protective equipment.
    What learn - icon
  • Ask yourself or your crew

    • How can something like this happen here (e.g. on our site)?
    • What safety measures (i.e. procedures, controls/barriers) do we have in place to mitigate the risk?
    • How do we know the risk controls/barriers are working?
    • What improvements or changes should we make to the procedures, controls/barriers or the way we work?
    Ask your crew - icon
Published on 12/05/23 502 Views

A worker was injured during hydrovac operations due to inadequate foot protection and equipment. In excavating frozen soil, the worker's foot became stuck in mud causing a surface laceration and minor burn. The rubber steel toe boots failed to protect against hot, high-pressure water.

Original material courtesy of Energy Safety Canada

Energy Safety Canada