August 2014

Safety Notes

Accident Report

  • Incident | Mobile scaffold tips over
  • Business | Property management
  • Employee | Two construction workers

Two workers, standing on a mobile scaffold 17 feet above a cement floor, were installing acoustic tile and insulation to the ceiling of a commercial building. The scaffold's wheels and casters were unlocked and the scaffold platform, which was modified to store materials, extended about three feet past the base. The top guardrail was 35 inches above the platform and did not have midrail.

The cement floor was uneven and there were two drain holes, ¾-inch and 1½ inches below the surface.

While they were on the scaffold, the workers began to move it forward by pulling on the ceiling beams. As they were moving the scaffold, one of the caster wheels came off and the scaffold tipped over.

A neighbor heard the scaffold fall and called for help. Emergency responders arrived and took the workers to the hospital. One worker had surgery to repair a torn vein in his stomach and was hospitalized overnight. The other worker had his L-2, L-3, and L-4 vertebrae fused and spent more than 10 days in the hospital.

illustration of scaffolding tipping over

Applicable standards

1926.451 (g)(1)(iv): Employees on a self-contained adjustable scaffold must be protected by a guardrail system when the platform is supported by the frame structure.

1926.452 (w) (6)(ii): The height to base-width ratio of the scaffold while it is moved must be 2 to 1 or less unless the scaffold is designed and constructed to meet nationally recognized stability test requirements such as those listed in ANSI/SIA A92.5 and A92.6. (The scaffold's height to base width ratio was 3.47:1.)

1926.452 (w)(2): Scaffold casters and wheels must be locked with positive wheel locks or wheel and swivel locks.

1926.452 (w)(3): Manual force used to move the scaffold must be applied as close to the base as practicable, but not more than 5 feet above the supporting surface.

1926.452 (w)(6)(i): The surface on which the scaffold is being moved must be within three degrees of level and free of pits, holes, and other obstructions.

1926.452 (w)(7): Platforms must not extend outward beyond the base supports of the scaffold unless outrigger frames or equivalent devices are used to ensure stability.

1926.452 (w)(9): Caster stems and wheel stems must be pinned or otherwise secured in scaffold legs or adjustment screws.

1926.454 (a): Employees were not trained by a person qualified in the subject matter to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used.

437-001-0760(a): Employees were not properly supervised in the safe operation of the scaffold.

437-001-0765 (13): The employer did not have written records of safety meetings.

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