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Zoo maintenance worker dies after a 400-pound cage falls on him.

Minnesota Department of Health
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 92MN020, 1993 Feb; :1-5
A 42-year-old zoo maintenance worker (victim) was fatally injured when a 400-pound bird cage assembly, mounted on a 60-foot pole, free-fell and hit him as he was installing an electrical limit switch near the bottom of the pole. The victim was working alone, using no personal protective equipment, and had elevated the cage assembly to an unknown height. The cage assembly was not blocked (supported from underneath by means of a block) at the time of the incident. The zoo planned to use the pole and cage unit as part of a bird show. During the show, cages would be elevated to the top of the pole using a remote control device and then the birds would be released. Limit switches were being installed at the top and bottom of the pole to automatically stop the cage platform after ascending or descending. It was determined after the incident that the cage fell because of a gear failure in the pole's motor/winch assembly. The victim, who never regained consciousness, suffered a cardiac arrest and spinal injuries from the blow of the cage. He died 107 days after the incident. MN FACE investigators concluded that, in order to prevent similar occurrences, the following guidelines should be followed: 1. heavy elevated structures should be blocked when it is necessary for employees to work beneath them; 2. hard hats should be worn in construction work areas when there is a possibility of items falling from above; and 3. manufacturers should establish a rigorous maintenance/monitoring schedule for critical parts of equipment which may be affected by equipment modification.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Protective-equipment; Maintenance-workers; Personal-protective-equipment; Safety-helmets
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-92MN020; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-507283
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Minnesota Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division