Elevator Shaft Falls Are Deadly but Preventable
The construction site is a dangerous place yet common sense says that elevator shaft falls are mostly preventable.
Here are a few fatal elevator shaft fall scenarios that could have been prevented:
In a remote hillside area, a framing crew was raising the third story on a new home. Two co-workers were installing ceiling joists while the victim handed up needed materials. The framing crew was busy setting and nailing joists into place when they heard a disturbing sound. They went to investigate and discovered the victim, at the bottom of the elevator shaft, seriously injured. At the time of the incident, the elevator shaft opening was not covered. The victim was bleeding profusely from a severe head wound. One of the co-workers slipped a sweater under the victim’s head to try to slow the bleeding. A 911 call was made immediately, but emergency services had trouble finding the house, because no address yet existed. The elevator shaft fall victim died from a severe head injury with skull fracture.
A laborer fell down an open elevator shaft on a New York construction project. There were no guardrails in place at the time of the fall. The laborer suffered fatal injuries.
A victim and his older brother (who worked for their father) were involved in cutting the lumber for the roof trusses on the second floor of the structure. They had set up two wooden saw horses and were laying the lumber to be cut on the horses. The horses were placed in the vicinity of an elevator shaft opening in the floor. The opening was unguarded and no fall protection was used by the workers. The older brother told the victim to pick up the scrap lumber around the saw horses and clean up the work area. The older brother then walked around one saw horse to pick up the circular saw while the victim walked around the other saw horse toward the unguarded elevator shaft. The older brother heard boards rattling, looked up and didn't see the victim. He went to the edge of the unguarded shaft opening and saw the victim lying on the dirt floor at the bottom of the elevator shaft.
How could these fatal elevator shaft falls have been prevented?
- Employers should design and use comprehensive fall-protection programs to reduce the risk of serious or fatal injuries.
- Unprotected openings, sides or edges which are 6 feet or more above a lower level should be protected by the use of a guardrail system, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system.
- Employers and subcontractors should incorporate safety issues in work planning by identifying all fall hazards at the construction site, conduct regular safety inspections, train employees to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions, and provide employees with protective equipment and train them how to wear/use it.
- In remote or obscure locations, make sure that workers know their location, and can provide directions to emergency responders. Develop an emergency plan that reflects the response time from local emergency services.
- Enforce OSHA fall protection standards for residential construction.
Do you need a Philadelphia fall at work injury lawyer to fight on the behalf of your loved one? Has a loved died from a preventable elevator shaft fall? Has a loved one been permanently injured from a preventable elevator shaft fall? There is no way to bring him (her) back but a company must be held responsible for your loss. Please contact the Pennsylvania law firm Anapol Schwartz so they can evaluate the facts and fight for what is right.