NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Worker dies from fall off wet tarp.

New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services
Trenton, NJ: Public Health Services Branch, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Division of Epidemiology, Environmental, and Occupational Health, Occupational Health Service Occupational Health Surveillance Program, 2008 Dec; :1
A 51-year-old trucking company employee fell to his death when he slipped off the wet tarp he was using to cover the load on a flatbed truck. The worker was experienced at the task he was performing. No OSHA safety standards were violated. Background: The incident site was the enclosed part of a loading dock of a company that manufactures building materials. Company workers tarp approximately 200 truckloads every week, covering each with two polyester-coated PVC tarps, one at the rear and one at the front. A forklift operator first drops the folded tarps onto the load; then a tarper spreads and secures them, usually working alone. Although the company has a safety director and holds periodic safety meetings, it has no written safety instructions concerning tarping, as this is not considered a hazardous task. The worker who died in the accident had been employed for 3-1/2 years; his primary job was to change tires and make minor repairs, but he had also tarped loaded trucks many times. The Incident: The incident took place on a cold and intermittently rainy evening in March. The worker finished his shift and decided to assist his son, who was working for the first time as a tarper; a flatbed truck was in the loading dock, loaded with gypsum wallboard and was ready to be covered. Although the immediate area was enclosed, the tarps were wet and icy from having been stored outdoors. In addition, the soles of the worker's shoes had been worn smooth and were encrusted with gypsum, which becomes slippery when wet. The two men positioned the rear tarp and secured it. Standing on the wet tarp, the victim then shook out the second one; In the process he slipped, fell about five feet, and struck his head on the concrete floor. He was knocked unconscious and died in the hospital the next day. The medical examiner listed injuries to the neck and spinal cord as the cause of death.
Hazards; Health-hazards; Mortality-data; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Injury-prevention; Accidents; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accident-analysis; Fall-protection; Transportation-workers; Transport-mechanisms; Truck-drivers; Trucking; Vinyl-plastics; Coated-fabrics; Climatic-conditions; Climatic-factors; Footwear
New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Occupational Health Service, Fatality Assessment & Control Evaluation (FACE) Project, PO Box 360, Trenton NJ 08625-0360
Publication Date
Document Type
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Source Name
Worker Dies from Fall Off Wet Tarp
Performing Organization
New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division