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Highway technician dies after falling 55 feet from bridge scaffold.

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 94MN064, 1995 Apr; :1-4
A 51-year-old male highway technician (victim) drowned after falling 55 feet from a suspended bridge scaffold into a river. A private company was contracted to remove lead-based paint from the bridge and to repaint the bridge. On the day of the incident, the victim was inspecting the paint thickness of a recently completed section of the bridge. A steel platform scaffold was suspended directly below the most recently painted section of the bridge. A second platform scaffold with a damaged suspension mechanism had been left suspended next to the scaffold that the workers used the day of the incident. The two platforms were at the same height but were separated by a narrow gap. The scaffold with the damaged suspension mechanism was "off limits" to all workers at the site. However, there were no barriers to prevent workers from stepping across the gap between the platforms. The victim climbed down a bridge ladder affixed to the side of the bridge and onto the scaffold suspended below the bridge deck. He had various personal protective equipment, including a life vest, a safety belt, and a lanyard in his vehicle. He was not using any of this equipment at the time of the incident. Two employees of the company contracted to refinish the bridge were on a barge in the river approximately 1/8 mile from the bridge. They noticed the victim fall into the river. They used a small boat to get to where they last saw him but they were unable to locate him. Emergency rescue personnel were immediately notified and arrived at the scene shortly after the incident. Dragging operations began and continued the next morning until the victim's body was found. MN FACE investigators concluded that, to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, employers should: 1. ensure that appropriate fall protection equipment is available and correctly used when employees are working from elevations where the potential for a fall exists; 2. develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive safety program that includes, but is not limited to, training in hazard recognition and avoidance; and 3. encourage workers to actively participate in work place safety.
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; Scaffolds; Ladders; Safety-belts; Personal-protective-equipment; Safety-programs; Construction-workers; Construction-industry; Painters; Road-construction
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
FACE-94MN064; 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