Fatal Facts: Carpenter Falls Through Floor

SUMMARY

View through the unfinished floor of the room above the garage. The leading edge of the floor is on the right and the OSB sheeting is stacked on floor joists.

A 33-year-old carpenter fell through the floor of the room over a garage while he was installing OSB sheeting. He had worked with his two brothers for about a month as part of a three-person crew.

The carpenter and his brothers were doing leading edge work to install the floor above the garage. He was laying floor sheeting while one was taking measurements and the other was busy cutting the sheeting. They finished framing the room and installing the roof trusses about a week before.

He went down a ladder to the ground floor to get some nails. After coming back up the ladder, he started nailing down a sheet. Shortly after, he fell through the joists of the unfinished floor, along with a sheet of OSB, to the concrete 14 feet below. Despite working close by, neither brother saw him fall. He was not earing a personal fall protection harness when he fell. He died the next day at the hospital.

Example of how crew tied-off ifeline ropes to roof trusses, which was inadequate.

After the incident, the brothers demonstrated to investigators how they tied-off their fall protection lifeline ropes by wrapping them around roof trusses. They did not have fixed or temporary anchors installed. Investigators determined their method of tying off was inadequate, since diagonal truss braces are not rated for that. Investigators also found that the employer did not have an Accident Prevention Program (APP), and did not develop a fall protection work plan for the project.

REQUIREMENTS

  • Ensure that a fall arrest system, fall restraint system, or positioning device system is provided,
  • The fall arrest system is installed, and implemented in accordance with CFR 1926.501 when employees are exposed to fall hazards of six feet or more to the ground or lower level while constructing a leading edge.
  • Develop and implement a written fall protection work plan, including each area of the work place where the employees are assigned and where fall hazards of ten feet or more exist.
  • Develop a formal accident-prevention program, tailored to the needs of the particular plant or operation and to the type of hazard involved.

RECOMMENDATIONS

FACE investigators concluded that to help prevent similar occurrences employers should:

  • Frequently remind workers of the need to use fall protection 100% of the time they are at risk of falls.
  • Develop policies and train workers to:
  • Tie-off to approved fixed or temporary anchors only. Wood beams of roof trusses are not designed to support fall protection systems.
  • Not store raw materials like OSB over floor joists or other areas where fall hazards exist.