A 29-year-old male rigger (victim) died after falling between 20-40 feet during wind turbine tower construction. He was wearing, but not using, a safety belt and lanyard at the time of the incident. The tubular, slightly tapered, turbine tower consisted of two vertical sections which were being bolted together. The bottom tower section had been set and the victim and two coworkers were attaching the top section. They were working from a pre-installed factory-manufactured work platform inside the bottom section, at approximately 50 feet. Access to the platform was by way of a pre-installed metal ladder, attached to the wall with heavy steel supports. Tower section interiors were cleared of snow and ice prior to setting; except for ice on the bolt flange which was removed, the tower's top section appeared clear. After attaching four bolts, the workers noticed additional ice and snow inside the top tower section. They decided there was insufficient accumulation to warrant its removal for further cleaning, and one coworker climbed up the ladder and began to dislodge it. A large chunk of ice fell to the platform and struck the other coworker's head. As the victim and injured coworker began descending the ladder to exit the tower, more ice fell from the sides of the top section, through the platform's ladder opening, and onto the men on the ladder. The victim was knocked from the ladder by the falling ice. As he fell, his head struck a steel ladder support and he sustained instant, fatal, head injuries. MN FACE investigators concluded that, in order to prevent similar occurrences, employers should: 1. ensure workers use fall protection, even in emergency situations, when ascending/descending fixed ladders; 2. cap wind turbine tower sections exposed to inclement weather to avoid ice build- up inside; and 3. provide employees with adequate training to ensure that they can recognize potential hazardous exposures.
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; Construction-workers; Personal-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Training; Ladders