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FACE Report: Construction laborer dies after fall

Photos: NIOSH

Case report: #22MI055 
Issued by: Michigan State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program
Date of report: Sept. 8, 2023

A 49-year-old construction laborer was working as an independent contractor for a residential remodeling company. He was a mason by trade but also performed demolition and interior carpentry. He was onsite with the owner of the remodeling company and another laborer. Together, they were remodeling a second-floor apartment above a retail establishment. A telehandler was used to elevate a debris container outside the building. The container was raised to 2 feet below a window opening, pressed up against the building. It was about 4 feet wide, 8 feet long and 42 inches high. As the construction laborer was removing demolition debris through the window opening, he crawled into the debris container to rearrange materials. The container was sitting on the forks of the telehandler but was not attached. It tipped, and both the container and the construction laborer fell 16 feet to the concrete ground. Police and emergency medical services arrived and pronounced him dead at the scene.

To prevent similar occurrences, employers should:

  • Survey the worksite to assess the risks of working at height. Discuss risks identified with all workers and ensure they understand methods available to mitigate those risks.
  • Provide an appropriate guardrail system or safety net, or ensure the use of fall protection equipment, when work occurs around unguarded wall openings.
  • Secure attachments to the forks during the use of low and high lift trucks to prevent shifting.

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