FACEValue: Two workers crushed to death by falling wall

August 26, 2018

Case report: #2014-02*
Issued by: West Virginia Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program
Date of incident: April 18, 2013

A 24-year-old laborer and a 37-year-old pipefitter were crushed by a falling block wall when it failed. At the time of the incident, the laborer was applying caulking to the expansion joints of the block wall, and the pipefitter and a utility foreman were in a trench next to the block wall installing piping for the building’s sprinkler system. A wind gust caused the block wall to fall onto the three workers. The project superintendent called 911, and emergency medical services were dispatched and arrived at the scene within four minutes. The utility foreman was airlifted to a local hospital, and the laborer and pipefitter were pronounced dead at the scene.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Ensure employees follow the engineering/architectural drawings during building construction and obtain engineering approval before plan changes are made.
  • Follow a masonry wall bracing plan, train employees on proper masonry wall bracing and ensure masonry walls are properly braced throughout the project.
  • Develop and implement a restricted/limited access zone.
  • Train workers on the hazards of working around unsupported masonry walls.
  • Assign a competent person trained to monitor wind speeds.
  • Schedule work tasks to limit exposure of nonessential workers to hazards posed by masonry walls.