NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Hospital employee clearing snow killed when his skid-steer loader broke through a ventilation grate located in a sidewalk.

Massachusetts 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 03MA001, 2004 Dec; :1-5
On February 17, 2003, a 39-year-old male auto mechanic for a local hospital (the victim) was fatally injured when the skid-steer loader he was operating to clear snow fell through a ventilation shaft grate located in the sidewalk. The victim and the skid-steer loader fell approximately 20 feet to the bottom of a ventilation shaft. The force of the skid-steer loader hitting the bottom of the shaft caused the victim's head to strike the back of the operator's seat. The victim was in the ventilation shaft for approximately two hours before co-workers discovered him. Calls were placed for emergency medical services (EMS) and the fire department. Both responded to the scene within minutes. The victim was freed from the ventilation shaft and brought inside the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The Massachusetts FACE Program concluded that to prevent similar occurrences in the future, employers, property owners and municipalities that use skid-steer loaders or other heavy equipment on sidewalks should: 1. Know and communicate, with equipment operators, the intended load capacity of all grates on their property and maintain current engineering drawings for these grates that reflect "as built" conditions. 2. Have engineers conduct routine structural inspections and develop preventive maintenance schedules for all grates located in sidewalks and roadways. 3. Explore the possibility of eliminating or reducing the size of older grates when the original function of the system that the grate was part of has been eliminated, changed, or updated. 4. Develop, implement and enforce communication protocols to enhance safety of employees who are assigned to tasks that involve working alone in extreme weather conditions.
Region-1; 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; Equipment-operators; Maintenance-workers
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-03MA001; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-108704
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Massachusetts Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division