Survey Crew Chief Struck by Backing Dozer

  • Editorial Team
  • Crawler Dozer
  • 4 September 2023

A Heartbreaking Reminder of Occupational Dangers and the Importance of Safety Precautions on Construction Sites

In a somber incident that reminds us of the hazards that construction workers confront on a daily basis, Russell Victor Penley, a 29 year old survey crew chief from the East Flat Rock, North Carolina, lost his life while working on the I-26 widening project in Asheville. The project involves the expansion of the interstate to four lanes in each direction for 7.5 miles. But it came to a standstill as the tragic accident occurred.

On the morning of August 17, Penley was diligently performing his surveying duties when an unfortunate collision took place. A dozer, maneuvering in reverse as part of its construction tasks, struck Penley, who was positioned near the construction zone. The dozer operator, unaware of Penley’s presence, inadvertently ran over the young survey crew chief.

Russell Victor Penley had been an integral part of United Infrastructure Group’s team for over two and a half years, contributing his expertise to the I-26 widening project. The undertaking was in fact a joint venture between Fluor and United. The project needed a workforce of around 100 to 120 individuals working on-site.

The Incident prompted Fluor-United, the project’s general contractors, to temporarily halt construction operations as investigations were launched by both the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and local law enforcement agencies. David Uchiyama, spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, extended condolences to Penley’s family and reiterated the risks inherent in providing public services.

Apart from his professional contributions, Russell Victor Penley was a dedicated father to two sons aged 6 and 10. He also engaged in charitable work, participating in mission trips with Carpenter’s Hands Ministry. Penley’s untimely demise has once again brought our attention to the dangers faced by hardworking construction workers, especially incidents involving being struck by objects or vehicles. According to data from CPWR, struck-by fatalities accounted for a big portion of construction-related deaths in 2019.

To mitigate such unfortunate incidents, experts recommend taking a number of safety measures on construction sites. Wearing appropriate safety gear, using the designated pedestrian pathways, regularly inspecting tools and equipment, improving the visibility of workers and machinery, and implementing barriers to shield workers from traffic and falling objects are among the preventive measures recommended by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Plus, incorporating vehicle technologies like seatbelts, speed reduction systems, and warning systems for both drivers and workers can also be of great help in preventing such accidents.