Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 2000-07, 2000 Mar; :1-11
A 40-year-old tower-painting-company owner, his 10-year-old stepson, and a 19-year-old employee died after falling 1,200 feet when the hoist line on a portable capstan hoist used to raise them up the side of a 1,500-foot -high radio tower began slipping around the capstan, causing the hoist operator to lose control of the hoist line. The company had been at the site for 2 weeks to repair the beacon light at the top of the tower, paint the tower, and install rest platforms on the tower. On the day of the incident, the owner was going to work on the beacon light at the top of the tower while the two other workers were going to continue painting the tower. A 3,000-foot length of 3/4 inch nylon rope and a 1,000-pound -capacity portable electric capstan hoist was used to assist them in riding the hoist line, were tied into the hoist line approximately 6 feet apart. The stepson was first on the line, then the 19-year-old, then the company owner. Using a length of woven rope, the male workers had attached one of the rest platforms to the end of the nylon rope 62 inches below the last loop. The company owner's wife was operating the capstan hoist using a foot pedal located on the ground. As the wife was operating the hoist and hoisting the men up the side of the tower, the hoist line began to lip around the capstan. The wife tried to hold the rope, but could not and the men fell to the ground. The wife went to the tower's service building and called the radio station that owned the tower, who in turn told her to call 911. The owner of the company that maintained the county equipment attached to the tower was in his truck and hear via radio that the county emergency medical service had been dispatched to the scene. He proceeded to the scene and was the first responder to arrive. The county fire rescue squad arrived next, then the county emergency medical service. Due to the extent of the victims' injuries, no first aid was initiated. After the county sheriff's personnel secured the scene, the victims were taken to the local hospital, where they were officially pronounced dead. NIOSH investigators concluded that to help prevent similar incidents, employers should: Ensure the hoisting equipment used to lift personnel is designed to prevent uncontrolled descent and is properly rated for the intended use; comply with OSHA Compliance Directive CPL 2 -1.29 "Interim Inspection Procedures During Communication Tower Construction Activities" during maintenance and construction activities on tower; ensure that worker inspect equipment on a daily basis to identify and damage or deficiencies; ensure that required personal protective equipment is available and properly used; know and comply with child labor laws which include prohibitions against work by youth less than 18 years of age in occupations which are declared by the Secretary of Labor to be particularly hazardous (Hazardous Orders). Additionally: Tower owners should ensure that workers adhere to OSHA Compliance Directive CPL 2-1.29 while performing maintenance or construction activities on their towers.