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Window washer dies after falling 35 feet when suspension scaffold collapsed.

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 95MN055, 1995 Dec; :1-9
A 37-year-old window washer died of injuries sustained when the two-point suspension scaffold he was working from collapsed. The victim was not wearing fall protection and he fell thirty-five feet to the ground. The window washing company the victim worked for was contracted to wash the windows of a six story building. Prior to his fall, the victim was operating a two-point suspension scaffold and washing windows on the third story of the building. The victim was working with one other coworker, who was also washing windows from the scaffold, at the time the incident occurred. The two workers arrived at the site shortly after 5:00 a.m. on the morning of the incident and set up the scaffold. It was dark at this hour of the morning and the victims did not use any type of artificial light to set up the scaffold. Each of the two outriggers was to be secured to a separate steel bar in order to attach counterweights to the outriggers. The steel bar was properly pushed through one of the outriggers with two counter weights attached to each side. In the darkness, the victims may not have been able to see the hole in the other outrigger. The steel bar was pushed through the counter weights on each side of the outrigger, but it was not pushed through the hole in the outrigger itself. The outrigger was positioned underneath the steel bar and therefore was not properly secured. Although the steel bar was not properly secured, the weight of the bar and only counter weights was enough to hold the outrigger in place for some time, and the victims were able to complete part of the job before the scaffolding collapsed. Emergency medical personnel arrived at the incident site shortly after being called, but the victim was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. MN FACE investigators concluded that to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, the following guidelines should be followed: 1. persons working at elevation should wear personal fall protection equipment 2. tiebacks should be securely fastened to outrigger beams 3. counterweights used with outriggers, should be sufficient to balance four times the intended load and securely fastened to outrigger beams 4. adequate lighting should be used whenever assembling equipment 5. employers should design, develop, and implement a comprehensive safety program 6. persons working from elevated work surfaces should be trained in the recognition of fall hazards
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; Personal-protection; Protective-equipment; Personal-protective-equipment; Scaffolds; Window-cleaning; Safety-programs; Training; Lighting-systems
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-95MN055; 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