Safety Tips FACE Reports

FACEValue: Journeyman mason dies after stepping backward off scaffold

Case report: 08MI009*
Issued by: Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program
Date of incident: Winter 2008

A 32-year-old journeyman mason died after falling from an unguarded working surface of a mobile scaffold. After lowering the scaffold, the competent persons erecting it did not re-install the guardrails at the ends of the working platform, nor did they install the proper planking prior to raising the scaffold. The scaffold was raised to 35 feet. The victim, who was installing backing rod, was working in a south-to-north direction, moving backward on the work platform. He fell from the unguarded edge to the concrete surface below and later died. The firm the victim worked for had a written health and safety program, but it was not adequately implemented. The firm provided safety training through classroom training, videos and on-the-job training, in addition to toolbox talks. Throughout the year, the firm had “safety days” on weekends. Trade unions, equipment manufacturers and outside safety training consultants also provided training. Some training, such as scaffold erection training, incorporated a post-test to measure comprehension. However, only individuals responsible for erecting the scaffolds – not scaffold users – were required to attend this training.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Ensure all required components of a scaffold are properly installed prior to employee use.
  • Routinely conduct scheduled and unscheduled workplace safety inspections.
  • Periodically evaluate organizational commitment to – and leadership and employee understanding of – the safety program.
  • Institute a health and safety committee as part of a health and safety program.

*This report is the product of NIOSH’s Cooperative State partner. The findings and conclusions in each report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of NIOSH.