Employees #1 and #2 and a crane operator were shearing prestressed, reinforced precast 40-foot pilings that had been driven as building supports for a new pulp processing building. They were cutting the pilings to the appropriate elevation grade for the installation of the floor.
The procedure that had been used for the past three years was that the initial shear of a piling would be performed by a hydraulic cutter suspended by a crane and operated from a power unit at a distance from the piling. Since each piling had four wire-rope strands inside it, the pilings frequently remained standing after the initial shear and the crew would then go back and use a cutting torch to cut the strands before the piling would fall.
Employee #1, the signalman, was standing next to Employee #2, who was operating the power unit 23 feet from the piling that was being cut, and signaled him to release the cutter. Employee #1 then signaled the crane operator to lift the cutter off the piling. At this point, the piling toppled and struck a second piling 14 feet away from Employees #1 and #2. The second piling, which had also been sheared and was waiting for its wires to be cut, toppled over, crushing Employee #1 and grazing the chest of Employee #2. Employee #1 died immediately. Employee #2 was hospitalized with chest injuries.
Republished from Marine Construction Magazine Issue IV, 2022