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Volunteer fire fighter dies after suffering a head injury while operating a platform aerial ladder - Rhode Island.

Wertman SC
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 F2009-18, 2009 Oct; :1-14
On June 29, 2009, a 67-year-old male volunteer fire fighter (victim) suffered a severe head injury while he operated a platform aerial ladder from within the platform. The victim was recorded by a nearby security surveillance camera as he entered the platform of the aerial ladder, and extended and raised the aerial ladder up toward an open fire station bay door. Another fire fighter is seen moments later exiting from the bay door, and calling for the victim, then mounting the apparatus and walking up the aerial ladder. When the fire fighter arrived at the platform he noticed the victim's head was pinned between the header of the bay door and the platform railing. The fire fighter operated the controls in the platform to relieve the pressure on the victim's head. He repositioned the platform aerial ladder to the ground, off the driver's side. The victim was removed from the platform and transported to a local hospital before being airlifted to a trauma center. The victim succumbed to his head injury on June 30, 2009. Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include use of a platform aerial ladder for a task that may have been conducted more safely by means of a ground ladder, working alone, not wearing a helmet, and potentially diminished vision as a result of recent eye surgery. NIOSH investigators have concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should: 1.) Develop, implement, and train on policies and standard operating procedures that govern aerial apparatus (e.g., safe operation, appropriate use, and low clearances). 2.) Ensure that members operating an aerial ladder wear appropriate personal protective equipment including head protection. 3.) Consider adopting NFPA 1582 Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments to ensure that fire fighters, officers, and medical physicians fully understand the requirements to clear a fire fighter to return to duty.
Region-1; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Emergency-responders; Equipment-operators; Fire-fighters; Injury-prevention; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-health; Occupational-safety-programs; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Training; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Accident-analysis; Traumatic-injuries; Personal-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Head-injuries; Head-protective-equipment; Headgear; Surveillance
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
Identifying No.
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Services: Public Safety
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division