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FACEValue: Worker dies after falling from truck bed to driveway

NIOSH’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Reports

Date of incident: April 7, 2005

A 48-year-old laborer was killed after he fell 8.5 feet from the top of a pile of construction debris on a trash truck bed to the pavement below. The debris hauling company employing the victim had been in operation only five months at the time of the incident. The victim and his three Hispanic co-workers primarily spoke Spanish, whereas the foreman – who also was one of the company’s owners – primarily spoke English. The company had no written safety and health program or documentation of any employee training. On the date of the incident, the victim was standing on debris at the rear of the truck bed. A co-worker was standing on debris near the cab of the truck, assisting in the task. After the foreman loaded the last haul of debris into the truck bed, he exited the loader with the bucket in the raised position, resting against the right rear side of the truck, and went to the portable restroom approximately 15 feet away. A few moments later the co-worker – whose back was turned – heard a loud thumping sound. When he turned around, the victim was no longer on the truck bed. The victim was on the paved driveway near the loader’s rear tires, bleeding extensively. The co-worker called to his foreman, who immediately called 911. Emergency services arrived nine minutes later but were unable to resuscitate the victim. He was transferred to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. ­­­

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Establish work procedures that eliminate the need for workers to enter the trash truck bed after loading. To eliminate this fall hazard, all loading and leveling of loads should be done by machines. A skid steer loader is not capable of moving items in the bed of a truck to utilize space, so if an employer chooses to use this equipment he or she may have to plan for additional trips to the landfill. Alternately, employers should consider purchasing a knuckle boom attachment that would allow them to move construction debris in the bed of the truck.
  • Employers should develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive safety program that includes training in a language and at a literacy level that employees can understand. Employers should evaluate all tasks performed by workers to better identify all hazards and then create a safety program designed to mitigate these hazards. In this case, the employer provided no safety training even though his workers were exposed to a serious fall hazard. Because the victim in this instance primarily spoke Spanish, training should have been provided in his native language.

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