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FACEValue: Worker killed after fall into manlift shaft

NIOSH’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Reports
Date of incident: December 2007

A 56-year-old cleanup worker at a food mill was killed when he fell into a manlift shaft. The worker was employed through a temporary agency and had been on the job for two weeks. He primarily spoke Spanish with very limited proficiency in English. The victim also had a visual impairment, which may have been a contributing factor in the fall. The company had a written safety program for the manlift, consisting of procedures, inspections and training. The victim received on-the-job training from his supervisor in English. It is believed that the worker tripped or misjudged the handhold on a continuously running manlift in the mill that carried workers up and down between floors. He fell through the 2- by 2.5-foot floor opening onto a crossbeam, where he was struck continuously by one of the manlift steps, which were unable to pass by him. A co-worker climbed the ladder in the manlift shaft and located the victim on the down side. Another co-worker stopped the manlift and called for emergency assistance. Rescue workers pronounced the victim dead at the scene.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Workers must follow safety procedures when using a manlift. A manlift should only be used by workers.
  • Employers must ensure workers understand safety procedures and demonstrate competence using a manlift. Employers are required to provide safety training to employees in hazardous work settings, and must verify employees have the knowledge and skills to work safely.
  • Employers should have the capacity to train and supervise foreign-born workers in a language they understand.
  • Competence-based training should be provided. New workers should be closely supervised and retraining should be conducted to correct poor performance. Firms using temporary employees are responsible for specific safety training at a worksite, although temporary staffing agencies are responsible for general safety training.

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