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Male Truck Driver Dies After Falling From an Unguarded Building-Mounted Work Platform

Minnesota FACE Investigation 93MN00301

SUMMARY

A 60-year-old male bulk oil truck driver (victim) died of injuries he received after falling approximately 7 feet from an unguarded building-mounted work platform. The victim was re-filling his truck with lubricant for the next day's deliveries; he was alone at the time of the incident. Trucks were parked parallel to the 7-foot high, 10-foot long metal platform so the truck's 12-foot long top platform was about level with it. Two cement-filled posts located in front of the platform on ground level allowed trucks to park no closer than 16 - 18 inches from the work platform. Six 15-foot long bulk oil fill hoses were located 3 feet above the platform on the building wall. During loading, a fill hose was carried from the platform across the 18-inch space to a valve on top of the truck. The victim apparently slipped or tripped as he stepped from his truck back to the work platform to turn off the flow valve on the building. Evidence suggests he hit his head on the work platform and fell between it and his truck to the cement pad below. He sustained head injuries and died about one month after the incident. MN FACE investigators concluded that, in order to prevent similar occurrences, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • guardrails should be installed on open sides of elevated work platforms; and

  • good housekeeping policies and procedures to reduce the risk of slip/trip hazards should be maintained.

 

INTRODUCTION

On March 12, 1993, MN FACE was informed of a February 10, 1993, serious injury which became a fatal incident on March 8, 1993. MN OSHA, local police, and the county coroner were contacted, and all releasable information was requested. On March 15, 1993, an interview and permission for a site investigation were requested of the victim's employer. This request was denied on April 6, 1993. Information from other public documents was used for preparation of this report.

The victim worked for a bulk oil distributing company employing 28 people. He had worked as a truck driver for the company for 30 years. Because the employer refused participation in the MN FACE Program, the extent of the company's safety and training program could not be determined.

 

INVESTIGATION

A bulk oil tank truck driver was re-filling his truck from hoses located at a building-mounted metal work platform. The platform was 10 x 3.7 feet wide and 7 feet high. A stairway from ground level to the platform was located at one side end. There was a handrail on the stairway and a guardrail on the platform edge opposite from it. There was not, however, any guardrail installed on the front 10-foot long platform edge. A canopy was installed over the work platform. See Figure 1.

diagram of the building mounted platform

Figure 1. Building-mounted platform - not to scale.

Drivers parked their trucks parallel to the front edge of the platform during loading. Truck platforms, 12-feet long, were about the same height as the work platform. Two cement-filled posts at ground level in front of the work platform allowed trucks to park no closer than 16 to 18 inches from it. Six 15-foot long bulk oil fill hoses were located 3 feet above the platform on the building wall. They were draped, forming loops, across and in front of the entire 10-foot long platform edge.

To load trucks, drivers ascended the stairway to the work platform. They then carried a fill hose from the building, across the 18-inch space between the work and truck platforms, to a filling valve at the top of the truck. There was no standard procedure drivers used for the loading process.

The victim was alone at the time of the incident. Evidence suggests that as he stepped from his truck back onto the work platform to shut off the flow valve on the building, he slipped or tripped and hit his head on the work platform. He fell between it and his truck to the cement pad below. He was discovered there unconscious, his cap on the work platform. There were about 8 gallons of oil on the ground around him.

A 911 call was placed and police, fire, and EMS personnel responded. The victim was transported to a hospital where he remained in a coma until his death on March 8, 1993.

 

CAUSE OF DEATH

The cause of death listed on the death certificate was complications of blunt force craniocerebral trauma due to or as a consequence of a fall from height.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS/DISCUSSION

Recommendation #1: Elevated work platforms at bulk oil facilities should be designed and constructed to eliminate fall hazards by employing platform extensions and standard guardrails.

Discussion: The relationship between the bulk oil truck and the building mounted work platform in this incident created an 18-inch gap over which the victim had to step to access the truck for loading. This gap might be eliminated by extending the deck of the building mounted platform. This extension could be attached to the platform by hinges to allow it to be raised up for clearance when trucks are being parked and lowered to provide access to the truck for loading. All edges of the platform should be guarded with standard railings as required by 29 CFR 1910.23(c)(1).

Recommendation #2: Good housekeeping policies and procedures to reduce the risk of slip/trip hazards should be maintained.

Discussion: Although the exact sequence of events of this incident is unknown, the fill hoses draped in front of the platform may have created a trip hazard which contributed to this incident. The hazard could be reduced by connecting hoses to retractable cording to hold them off of the platform and out of the direct path of workers. Another option would be to attach hoses to fill drops at a level above the heads of workers needing to work on the platform.

 

REFERENCES

1. Office of the Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, Labor, 29 CFR Part 1910.23(c)(1), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Washington D.C., July 1992.

 

To contact Minnesota State FACE program personnel regarding State-based FACE reports, please use information listed on the Contact Sheet on the NIOSH FACE web site Please contact In-house FACE program personnel regarding In-house FACE reports and to gain assistance when State-FACE program personnel cannot be reached.

 

 
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