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Painter Died When Elevated Scissor Lift Tipped to Side When Tire Entered Pavement Depression

Michigan Case: 13MI091
Release Date: May 20, 2014

The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


In the summer of 2013, a male painter in his 30s died when the tire of the elevated Skyjack 3220 scissor lift in which he was working entered a depression in a parking lot caused by a recessed storm drain and tipped to its side (Figure 1). The decedent and his coworker were elevated approximately 15 feet in the scissor lift while they painted a building’s eaves/fascia. To protect the ground from paint overspray, the workers laid opaque plastic on the asphalt pavement. The plastic covered a storm drain grate, which was recessed 4½ inches. The workers noticed an area that had been missed during their painting work, so the lift had to be moved back to the missed area on the fascia. Both workers knew the storm drain grate was nearby but thought it was several feet away. While the lift was elevated, the decedent was in charge of the operating the lift. While in the process of backing the lift to the missed area of fascia, the lift’s left rear tire entered the 4½-inch storm drain depression, which was located approximately 20 feet away from the building causing the lift to tip to its side toward the building. The decedent’s coworker jumped from the lift as it was falling and received non-fatal injuries. The decedent stayed in the lift basket and struck the ground, receiving head injuries. Emergency response was called and the decedent was transported to a local hospital where he died two days later from his head injuries.

Painter Died When Elevated Scissor Lift Tipped to Side When Tire Entered Pavement Depression [PDF 301 KB]