Recently an apprentice electrician was helping install lightning protection at a construction project. It was the employee’s first day on the project. While preparing to install electrical equipment, the apprentice was clearing the area of debris to make room for the operation. The employee lifted a piece of plywood that was covering approximately a 36″ by 36″ hole. The employee stepped forward into the uncovered hole and fell approximately 42 feet to the bottom of a concrete tank. Emergency services were called to perform rescue operations. After more than an hour, the employee was removed from the tank and airlifted to the hospital for medical treatment. The accident investigation discovered that the general contractor had removed the grating to perform work inside the tank, creating the hole the plywood was covering. The plywood was not marked and secured as required. The employee is now in physical rehabilitation.Hazards Include: serious injury and death from falls to a lower level, and same-level fallsOSHA Regulation: covers for holes in floors, roofs, and other walking/working surfaces (1926.502)
- Covers shall be capable of supporting, without failure, at least twice the weight of employees, equipment, and materials that may be imposed on the cover at any one time;
- All covers shall be secured when installed to prevent accidental displacement by the wind, equipment, or employees;
- All covers shall be marked with the word “Hole” or “Cover” to provide warning of the hazard;
- Roadways and vehicular aisles shall be capable of supporting, without failure, at least twice the maximum axle load of the largest vehicle expected to cross over the cover.
- Use extreme caution when carrying a load on a work site, or when walking on paper, plastic or cardboard, as you might not be able to see holes beneath you.
- Even shallow holes can cause serious injuries. If you find a hole, expose it immediately for others to see, barricade it or post someone to warn others of the danger, and notify your supervisor.
- Construct hard barricades to mitigate the hazard of holes when the use of a cover is not possible.
- Inspect the work area for holes prior to beginning each work shift, as conditions change quickly on a construction site.
- If you are going to cut or make a hole, barricade the area before beginning work to keep others out. If you are exposed to a fall greater than six (6) feet, then you must wear fall protection and be properly tied off.
Everyone is responsible for their own personal safety. Do NOT assume the work crew before you did everything by the book. Be your brother’s keeper!