The Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program was notified July 31, 2003, via newspaper surveillance, of an occupational fatality involving a 55-year-old bulldozer owner/operator. On July 29, 2003, a bulldozer owner / operator drowned in the cab of his machine as he was trying to find a leak in a pond dam. The operator had been hired by a local farm owner to find and repair a leak in one of the ponds on her farm. As the operator dug a trench through the earthen dam, a section at the top collapsed sending sludge into the trench. The water/sludge mixture filled the cab of the bulldozer, trapping the operator inside. When the owner/operator did not return home as expected, his wife called the pond owner. The pond owner and the operator’s wife searched the pond area for the bulldozer operator. They found the water-filled trench next to the pond, but not the bulldozer or the operator. Emergency medical services (EMS) were called to the pond. After arriving at the scene, EMS contacted a diver who then found the bulldozer submerged in the water with the decedent inside. The coroner stated the cause of death as due to drowning.


Recommendation No. 1: Ponds should be drained down before repairs begin.

Recommendation No. 2: Bulldozer owner / operators should follow Occupational Safety and Health safety guidelines.

Recommendation No. 3: Bulldozer operators should leave themselves an escape route when working in dangerous spaces.

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Notes/Citation Information

A summary of this case is available as the additional file listed below.

03KY073_Summary.pdf (19 kB)
Case Summary