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Iron worker falls 19 stories after welding lead melts steel cage cable - Iowa.

Iowa Department of Public 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 96IA003, 1996 Aug; :1-4
In February 1996 a 43 year old welder for an iron erection company died when his suspended metal cage fell 19 stories from the side of a new building. The victim and a co-worker had been arc welding on the west face of a new high-rise building, each supported separately in a metal cage suspended by a 1/2 inch steel cable. The victim had an electrical welding lead coming to his work area from above. This high amperage welding cable was in poor condition and had been repaired with electrical tape several times. Due to high winds, the welding cable came into direct contact with the steel cable supporting the metal cage. The insulation of the welding cable failed at this point, and in a shower of sparks, the welding lead arced to the support cable and melted both in two, sending the cage immediately to the ground. The welder inside the cage was wearing a body harness and rope lanyard, attached to a nylon lifeline tied to a point above his work position. The cage is designed to allow a worker to slip through an opening in the top-front portion of the cage and remain supported by his/her lanyard if the cage should fall. However when this cage fell, it snagged the victim's lanyard on it's way down. Both the cage and the welder fell 19 stories, the cage landing on a catwalk on an adjacent building, and the welder landing in an alley. He was killed instantly. Recommendations following our investigation were as follows: 1. Welding leads should come from below suspended platforms or cages - not from an overhead position where shorts could damage supporting cables. 2. Welders should inspect welding leads prior to and during work for signs of damage and/or exposed wire that could cause a short. 3. Employers should make periodic inspections to ensure that safety equipment is in acceptable condition and worn according to manufacturer's recommendations. 4. Workers should ensure that their fall protective equipment is in acceptable condition and worn properly.
Region-7; 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-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Welders; Welding; Welding-equipment; Welding-industry; Electrical-fields; Electrical-safety; Construction-workers; Construction-industry; Construction-equipment
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-96IA003; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-708674
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Iowa Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division