Like soldiers lost in war, we should remember our construction brethren whose lives are lost in the service of their careers and crafts, whether due to negligence or misfortune. We can honor them by learning from these terrible incidents and always remembering to put the safety of people before any bottom line.
As was once said on the old Kung Fu TV show: "All life is precious and can never be replaced."
Electric shockThe employee was attempting to correct an electrical problem involving two non-operational lamps. He proceeded to the area where he thought the problem was. He had not shut off the power at the circuit breaker panel nor had he tested the wires to see if they were live. He was electrocuted when he grabbed the two live wires with his left hand and then fell from the ladder.
Inspection results: OSHA issued citations alleging three serious violations. OSHA's construction standards include several requirements that, if they had been followed here, might have prevented this fatality.
Recommendations: The employer should not allow work to be done on electrical circuits unless an effective lock-out/tag-out program is implemented [29 CFR 1926.416(a)(1)].
The employer should not allow work to be done on energized electrical circuits or circuits which are not positively de-energized or tagged out [29 CFR 1926.417(a) and 417(c)].
Tubular scaffoldingA laborer was working on the third level of a tubular welded frame scaffold which was covered with ice and snow. Planking on the scaffold was inadequate, there was no guardrail and no access ladder for the various scaffold levels. The worker slipped and fell head first approximately 20 feet to the pavement below.
Inspection results: OSHA cited the employer for four alleged serious violations of the agency's construction standards. Had proper protection been provided for the employee, he might not have fallen to his death.
Recommendations: Standard guardrails and toeboards must be installed on scaffolds (29 CFR 1926.451(d)(10)). Ice and snow must be cleared from the scaffold to eliminate slippery conditions as soon as possible (29 CFR 1926.451(a)(17)). Access ladders-or the equivalent-must be provided to workers using the scaffold (29 CFR 1926.451(a)(13)).
An employee was constructing the third level of a tubular welded frame scaffold while standing on the second level. The scaffold was constructed on a poured concrete floor and had been leveled. Each section of the framework measured 6 foot, 5 inches high. The working surface was solidly planked.
In another case, the employee tried to set the third level frame into the pins of the second level, when the frame he was trying to position flipped to one side. The momentum of the frame thrust the employee backward off the second level. He fell to the ground, sustaining a fatal blow to his head.
Inspection results: Following its inspection, OSHA cited the employer for failure to provide specific employee training, failure to implement an effective safety program and failure to report the fatality within 48 hours.
Accident prevention recommendations: Employers must establish specific site safety rules for erecting and dismantling scaffolding [29 CFR 1926.21(b)(1)]. Employers must provide training to employees on the correct procedures to use in erecting and dismantling scaffolding [29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2)]. Fatalities must be reported to the nearest OSHA office within 48 hours [29 CFR 1904.8].
Nail gunA carpenter apprentice was killed when he was struck in the head by a nail that was fired from a powder actuated tool. The tool operator, while attempting to anchor a plywood form in preparation for pouring a concrete wall, fired the gun causing the nail to pass through the hollow wall. The nail traveled some 27 feet before striking the victim. The tool operator had never received training in the proper use of the tool, and none of the employees in the area were wearing personal protective equipment.
Recommendations: Institute a program for frequent and regular inspections of the job site, materials, and equipment by a competent person(s) (1926.20(b)(2)). Require employees exposed to the potential hazards associated with flying nails to use appropriate personal protective equipment (1926.100(a) and 1926.102(a)(1)). Train employees using powder actuated tools in the safe operation of the particular tool (1926.302(e)(2)). Train employees operating power actuated tools to avoid firing into easily penetrated materials (1926.302(e)(8)).
In another case, two employees were doing remodeling construction and were building a wall. One of the workers was killed when he was struck by a nail fired from a powder-actuated tool. The tool operator, while attempting to anchor plywood to a 2x4 stud, fired the tool. The nail penetrated the stud and the plywood partition prior to striking the victim.
Inspection results: As a result of its investigation, OSHA issued citations for three serious violations. Had employees been trained in the use of powder-actuated tools and had precautions been taken to prevent the nail from passing through the wall, the accident probably would not have occurred.
Recommendations: Employees using powder-actuated tools must be trained in the operation of the particular tool. [29 CFR 1926.302(e)(l)].
Driving into materials easily penetrated must be avoided unless materials are backed by a substance that will prevent the nail from passing completely through and creating a flying missile hazard on the other side [29 CFR 1926.302(e)(8)]. Operators and assistants using powder-actuated tools must be safeguarded with eye protection [28 CFR 1926.302(e)].
Two employees were painting the exterior of a three-story building when one of the two outriggers on their two-point suspension scaffold failed. One painter safely climbed back onto the roof while the other fell approximately 35 feet to his death. The outriggers were inadequately counterweighted with three 5-gallon buckets containing sand and were not secured to a structurally sound portion of the building. Neither painter was wearing an approved safety belt and lanyard attached to an independent lifeline.
Inspection results: As a result of its investigation, OSHA issued citations for five serious and two other than serious violations of its construction standards. OSHA's construction safety standards include several requirements which, if they had been followed here. might have prevented this fatality.
Recommendations: Develop and maintain a safety and health program to provide guidance for safe operations (29 CFR 1926.20(b)(1)). Institute, a program for frequent and regular inspections of the job site, as well as materials and equipment by a competent person(s) (29 CFR 1926.20(b)(2)). Instruct each employee on how to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions, which apply to the work and work areas (29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2)).
Construct scaffolds and their components so that they can support at least four times the maximum intended load (29 CFR 1926.451(a)(7)). Install outrigger tiebacks of 3/4-inch rope, or equivalent, to a structurally sound portion of the building to provide a secondary means of anchorage (29 CFR 1926.451(i)(4)).
Require employees to wear approved safety belt and lanyard equipment attached to an independent lifeline that is attached to a substantial structural member (29 CFR 1926.451(i)(8)).
The cases here described were selected as being representative of fatalities caused by improper work practices. No special emphasis or priority is implied nor are the cases necessarily recent occurrences. The legal aspects of the incidents have been resolved, and the cases now closed.
Concrete formsA construction crew was preparing to pour concrete into forms. A laborer climbed up a ladder on one side of the forms and stepped over the form to stand on an unguarded scaffold on the opposite side. He was carrying two hand trowels and a brush to be used by other workers after the concrete was poured. He fell, striking his head on a concrete slab at ground level and sustained fatal injuries.
Because the employee had previously worked for the employer on several different occasions and had been performing this type of work over the last 21 years, the employer felt no training was necessary for this employee and none was provided.
Inspection results: OSHA cited the employer for a serious violation of its requirement to install standard guardrail and toeboards on all open sides and ends of platforms more than 10 feet above the ground or floor.
Recommendations: Train employees to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions associated with their work [29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2)]. Install standard guardrail and toeboards on all open sides and ends of platforms more than 10 feet above the ground or floor [29 CFR 1926.451(a)].