In June of 2015, a 52-year old laborer was crushed and killed by a falling steel beam. He was helping to demolish a 30-foot-high steel structure that had supported a piece of machinery when it unexpectedly collapsed. The victim was a friend of his employer, who had hired him and another laborer to assist in a demolition and metal scrapping project.
The employer had arranged with a food processing plant to demolish the steel structure that had supported a retired cyclone air separator and then sell the steel for scrap. The structure was supported by four steel column legs. It had been moved from its original location and placed on
The structure was supported by four steel column legs. It had been moved from its original location and placed on a slightly sloping pavement in the plant’s yard. The structure’s legs were of different lengths, which, combined with the slope, caused it to lean about four feet in the direction of the slope.
The employer and his crew decided to lower it in the direction of the lean using a rope attached to a forklift. Working from a platform elevated by the forklift, the victim used a cutting torch to make several cuts to the structure. The forklift was repositioned and a rope was attached to it and rigged to several parts of the metal structure.
The victim then climbed up a couple of rungs on a stepladder and cut through a cross bracing. As he was doing this, the structure unexpectedly collapsed. It fell in the opposite direction than was planned. He was crushed under a steel beam and died at the scene.
The Washington State Department of Labor has issued the following recommendations:
- Prior to permitting employees to start demolition operations, you must make an engineering survey by a competent person, of the structure to determine structural integrity and the possibility of unplanned collapse of any portion of the structure.
- You must similarly check adjacent structures where employees may be exposed. You must have in writing, evidence that such a survey has been performed.
- You must conduct demolition of all buildings and structures under competent supervision, and you must afford safe working conditions to the employees.
Further recommendations include:
- All personnel involved in a demolition project need to be aware of the types of hazards that are present and the safety precautions necessary to control these hazards. • Create a project specific demolition safety work plan with step-
- Create a project specific demolition safety work plan with step-by-step instructions how the work can be accomplished in a safe manner; and
- Inform employees of the elements of the demolition plan and ensure they conduct their work activities in a safe manner.
OSHA’s Demolition and Fact Sheet explains how to adequately prepare for a task with regard to the health and safety of the workers.