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Boston Water main break kills workers.
4

Boston Water main break kills workers.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Quote (oldestguy)

Something fishy here when trench box is needed after the fatality.

How so? Seems to me that a dry trench filled with water and then vacuumed dry is likely to collapse.. and that a trench box is the way to prevent that.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

jg,

From the article:

Quote:

Two workers died in Boston on Friday afternoon after a water main break flooded the trench where they were working, according to the Boston Fire Dept.

Followed by:

Quote:

As emergency responders descended on the scene, water was removed with a large vacuum before a trench box was lowered to secure the walls to prevent the trench from collapsing, the spokesman said.

Unless you're in competent rock (per OSHA classifications), you need either a supported cut (sheet pile or trench box) or an excavation with a sloped cut.

For most utility work, you're not going to get sheet piles (or a slurry wall, etc.) so a trench box being used from the outset is most likely. Which is why the box coming in after the event is strange.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

I would say that the vast majority of the time I've seen utilities work being performed, there is little or no reinforcement of trench walls in place. I guess I assumed that because this behavior was so pervasive, it was not a violation of any code. Guess I was wrong.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

I've seen our companies lineup of trench boxes, and it's impressive. But usually they are transported on trailers, which is why many companies might not want to use them if they can avoid them.

On the other hand, wet soil would seem to be more mobile than dry soil.

FYI, government agencies are not required to follow OSHA regulations, as OSHA is federal, and many water companies are local government. Not to say the regulations are bad or in anyway harmful, but they may not apply to local government agencies.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

If the trench is more than 4 ft deep then as winelandv noted they must be shored or sloped. Since sloped cuts are rarely in the best interest of the project trench cages are used constantly in our area.

Essentially every utility trench that is dug here gets one since most utilities are below frost (6-8 ft)

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Other news reports said the rescuers were working on their knees digging out the bodies. That makes it sound like the water started flowing into the trench and caused a trench wall collapse or possibly the trench wall collapsed onto the workers and broke open the water pipe. Either way, the company also apparently has a history of safety violations and unpaid fines. Overall, a very sad case.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Quote (cranky108)

FYI, government agencies are not required to follow OSHA regulations, as OSHA is federal, and many water companies are local government. Not to say the regulations are bad or in anyway harmful, but they may not apply to local government agencies.
For what it's worth, it seems to me that municipalities are more likely to use trench boxes than private entities. If only because there is not as strong of a time=money influence on getting the work done.

In this particular instance, it was private work being done. I'd guess they were tapping the line.

Quote (article)

Marcy Goldstein-Gleb, the executive director of OSHA's Massachusetts coalition, told the Boston Globe the company was conducting private work, not work on behalf of the city of Boston, during the pipe break.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Quote (cranky108)

FYI, government agencies are not required to follow OSHA regulations, as OSHA is federal, and many water companies are local government.

As someone who works for a local government agency that experiences OSHA regulation, I call this statement untrue. You may see the application at Link

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Quote (jayrod12)

Essentially every utility trench that is dug here gets one since most utilities are below frost (6-8 ft)

I also live in an area with deep utilities because of frost. I see trenches deep enough that the workers heads are not visible, with no shoring, all the time.

A few years ago the town I lived in reconstructed the major sewer line that ran down main street. The trench they dug for that job was at LEAST 15 feet deep, 200 or so yards long, and was not shored at all. It was, however, very wide- probably 20 feet. Two full lanes of the road were excavated.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

A number of states are not under Federal OSHA and have their own systems, but generally, their rules are similar to or identical to OSHA.
I couldn't find much on the circumstances of this accident, but there are also rules relating to having access ladders to get out of a trench. Sounds like the trench was partially covered, so it may have fallen under confined space rules as well.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Is there a number we can call when we see 15ft trenches being dug without trench boxes?

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

(OP)
For what it is worth this OG used to regularly go down in test pits, when I though the ground was solid and would be safe. One time, about 10 feet down in an area of moist clay, a contractor friend there yelled for me to get the hell out. Turns out the clay had dried some and had developed vertical shrinkage cracks. Even though the side of trench was abut 60 degrees to horizontal, in came a big block of soil tipping in on its support about 5 feet down. I'm here only because of that warning. Subsequent rule, never enter a trench over 4 feet deep unless sloped well back or trench box.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

The first trench boxes I saw in use were between 1986 and 1990; it's been a while, somewhere between 26 and 30 years ago. Why is this still an issue?

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

I'll bet it has something to do with ignorance and inexperience.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Once you've seen a trench collapse and trap someone you'd quickly come to the conclusion that it's completely stupid to think you can "beat" a wall falling in. Fortunately, the case I saw was minor where a bit of the wall at the bottom fell in and trapped my co-workers legs and we got him out of there before it got worse. But, the trench wall was about 5' high and if some of the higher wall had fallen the day would have ended much differently.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Quote (BigInch)


I'll bet it has something to do with ignorance and inexperience.

And let's not forget simple greed and the almighty profit motive.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Quote:

Records show the company faces tens of thousands of dollars of unpaid fines for violations reaching back to at least 2012.
And yet they were allowed to continue operating as a business. <shakes head>

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Just thinking about this again, it occurs to me that the slope-back angle varies depending on trench material, and if the cut is in solid rock, you don't need the trench box, if I remember right. That being the case, they MIGHT have been in compliance on that aspect; the failure wasn't a cave-in failure.

The unpaid fines/ violations- I would be curious what was going on there, I'd suspect that the fines were still being appealed or something like, but who knows.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Excavation was 12-15ft deep with no trench boxes! Un-fricken believable !

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
Winston Churchill

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

"That being the case, they MIGHT have been in compliance on that aspect; the failure wasn't a cave-in failure."

The workers got trapped in a trench and drowned. The news reports say the recovering of bodies was difficult because it was being done on hands and knees in the trench box so they could dig the bodies out. That sounds like a cave-in to me.

It doesn't really matter if the cave-in happened before or after the water main broke. If it happened after, the workers might not have been trapped by the secondary cave-in if they were using a trench box.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

If it was rock, something I seem to remember is not so commom in Boston, it wouldn't have caved in even if wet.

Unpaid safety violations tells the greatest tale so far. I have a strong feeling that they have an endemic problem with safety.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Trust me, this was not solid rock. First off, since they were repairing an existing water line, it could not have been solid rock as it would had to have been previously excavated and refilled, unless those pipes were originally placed during some sort of tunneling effort. Second, from seeing maps showing what Boston looked like prior to the Revolution and comparing those maps with the current layout of the city, it's obvious that much of today's Boston was built on land that was back-filled and reclaimed from what was part of original harbor and lowlands. Here's a map showing the original shoreline of Boston as well as the current extents of the city:

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

I worked on a power plant proposal back in the 80s that was destined to go along the Charles River. Soil was not good at that site, as is true of much of Boston as I remembered, mostly from the mixing that had occured during the glacial epoch. I found this article describing the geology of Boston along with numerous historic incidents since the revolution. Surprisingly enough even material from the English Channel can be found today in certain deposits of Boston Harbor, left from dropped balast of cargo ships returning from England during WW I.

https://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/1476/report.pdf

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

That's the first time I've read what actually happened in the accident. Although, to be honest, it's still not entirely clear if shoring/trench box would have prevented it or not.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

JStephen,
A trench box may not have prevented the deaths, but the company and its owner would now be in a lot less trouble if they had used one.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

"it's still not entirely clear if shoring/trench box would have prevented it or not. "

That's correct, but in no way is it an excuse for, nor does it forgive, not using one. Especially where using one appears to have been a no brainer for anyone operating outside the envelop of total incompetency.

Reaction to change doesn't stop it smile

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

"As they did so, the soil supporting a nearby fire hydrant began to fall away, quickly burying the men up to their waists."

If they were in a trench box, there is no way that the soil would have buried the men up to their waists.

In addition, it is likely that the pipes were unrestrained and the owners of this compmany lacked the experience for this type of work. Someone with experience with unrestrained pipes would have made sure the pipes were anchored prior to digging around the pipes.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

A trench box would for damn sure of helped. The workers got trapped when the surrounding soil caved in around them up to their waists. If they had been working in a trench box, it would've prevented the cave-in from trapping the workers. Even if the hydrant still broke and flooded the trench, they would've been free to swim up.

This is a terrible tragedy, and I hope that something real comes out of the charges and not just fines/community service.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Unfortunately the incompetents are the same ones that will never get the message. Much more effort needs to be spent on keeping the incompetents out of the business. The system must be either too dumb, or too corrupt, for the industry to handle on its own. It would seem that there are a number of simple criteria or tests that could be applied to these kinds of operators which would easily keep them out. A contractor safety record and fine database?

Reaction to change doesn't stop it smile

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Atlantic Drain Service Co. Inc. has been cited for 18 violations by OSHA, and the company and owner now face charges of manslaughter in the deaths last year of two workers.

http://ehstoday.com/construction/criminal-indictme...

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

We call trenches silent killers. We loose around 50 % of jobs due to safety built into our cost. But rather that, then your name in the mud and the fact that sloppy and cheap work killed your workers. We shore anything that's above knee deep. If you think we overkill, go make your own calculations on the total weight of material that can collapse even on a trench 1 meter deep and say the collapse is two meters in length.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

bimr thanks for the update.
Big talk. Let's see if it sticks. All too often its like water on a duck's back and these guys will skate away to kill again.

So evidence suggests that they knew what they were doing all along. H

Next problem to fix is ...
Massachusetts law currently caps corporate liability at $1,000 in the event of a manslaughter conviction. “That amount hasn’t been raised in almost 200 years, and it’s woefully inadequate to the circumstances of this case,” he noted.

Find what you like to do, earn a living at it, and then make your lifestyle fit your income. — Chuck Yeager

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Thanks for the update bimr.

That's sure big talk, except for the 1.5 MM fine, nothing short of rediculous.
Let's see if the charges stick.

Obviously time to change the damage limitation law. Tell me why exactly should there be any "cap" on damages. Why should killers have any protection?

Massachusetts law currently caps corporate liability at $1,000 in the event of a manslaughter conviction. “That amount hasn’t been raised in almost 200 years, and it’s woefully inadequate to the circumstances of this case,” he noted.

Wonder who's been contributing to the political's campaigns in MA for the last 200 years. Seems like that hasn't stopped and, could it be?, is at the route of the entire problem. What do you think we'd find there ... the reason that most of Boston was made on swampland.

Find what you like to do, earn a living at it, and then make your lifestyle fit your income. — Chuck Yeager

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

Do not forget the client. As we speak we dealing with a client that want as cheap as possible work done. And believe me, that opens the doors to all sort of problems. When we sit in meeting with them, they keep throwing the issue of "they can get anther company to do it" on the table. My answer is. Fine, why wasting our time. Tomorrow they back at our door. But we also have a responsibility to our fellow business entities and to make sure somebody do not set a foot in this trap. Difficult times.

RE: Boston Water main break kills workers.

They're the ones at the bottom of it.
Which is why draining the swamp sounds great, but never works.

Find what you like to do, earn a living at it, and then make your lifestyle fit your income. — Chuck Yeager

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