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NIOSH Alert: Request for Assistance in Preventing Worker Injuries and Deaths Caused by Falls From Suspension Scaffolds

CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) periodically issues alerts on workplace hazards that have caused death, serious injury, or illness to workers. One such alert, Request for Assistance in Preventing Worker Injuries and Deaths Caused by Falls From Suspension Scaffolds (1) was recently released and is available to the public. * This alert describes five incidents of fatal falls from suspension scaffolds that resulted in six deaths. All the incidents involved violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for scaffolds. The alert provides recommendations, including OSHA regulations, to prevent serious injuries and fatal falls while working from suspension scaffolds.

A "suspension scaffold" is the term applied to one or more working platforms suspended by ropes or other means from an overhead structure; workers may die or be seriously injured if suspension scaffold equipment and fall-protection systems fail. During 1980-1985, falls from scaffolds accounted for 461 (17%) of 2705 fatal falls from elevations, second only to falls from buildings; a substantial proportion of these incidents involved suspension scaffolds. Recent investigations by NIOSH suggest that fatal falls result from defective scaffold equipment, improper installation or operation, improper training of workers, or failure to use appropriate personal fall-protection equipment.


  1. NIOSH. NIOSH alert: request for assistance in preventing worker injuries and deaths caused by falls from suspension scaffolds. Cincinnati: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, NIOSH, 1992; DHHS publication no. (NIOSH)92-105.

    • Single copies of this document are available without charge from the Information Dissemination Section, Division of Standards Development and Technology Transfer, NIOSH, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226; telephone (513) 533-8287 (1:00 4:30 p.m., Eastern time); fax (513) 533-8573.

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