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Lessons Learned: Boom Lift Blunt Force Trauma Incident


Falls are a hazard found in many work settings. A fall can occur during walking or climbing a ladder to change a light fixture, or as a result of a complex series of events affecting an iron worker 80 feet above the ground.

According to recent fatal injury statistics (BLS.gov), there are more than 600 fatal falls annually. Many workers may be surprised to hear that about 2 out of every 3 falls are from less than 20 feet high. Workers should be very aware of their work at any height.

Particularly at risk of fall injuries are those working in:

  • Healthcare support
  • Building cleaning and maintenance
  • Transportation and material moving
  • Construction and extraction occupations
OSHA Standard 1926.501(b)(1) Unprotected sides and edges. Each employee on a walking/working surface (horizontal and vertical surface) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling...

On a winter day, a roofer/foreman died after falling from a telescopic boom lift. He and four other roofing crew members were installing a new roof at a residence undergoing restoration. At the time of the incident, the foreman was not wearing a personal fall arrest system and was not tied off. The death certificate states the cause of death was due to atlanto-occipital dissociation due to blunt force trauma to the head due to a fall from a height.

Images from the scene of the fatal incident when a roofer fell from a boom lift.
Images from the scene of the fatal incident when a roofer fell from a boom lift.

Lessons Learned from this incident include:

  • All workers using man lifts such as telescopic boom lifts or other types of aerial lifts should have training prior to use.
  • Fall protection as required by the manufacturer of the lift must be worn when working on articulating and extensible boom lifts to avoid being thrown out of the basket of the lift.

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