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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 200552024 - Field Engineer Is Killed In Fall From Radar Tower

Accident: 200552024 -- Report ID: 0625700 -- Event Date: 10/25/2001
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
30447386110/26/20019621Us Coast Guard Marine Safety Office New Orleans
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
30447385310/26/20013812Tano Corp
At approximately 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 25, 2001, an electronics technician was working as a field engineer for the TANO Corporation, which was under contract to Lockheed Martin, the primary contractor for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) vessel tracking system (VTS) in New Orleans. He was on a marine traffic radar tower located at mile marker 94.1 on the Mississippi River on the Gov. Nichols Street wharf, repairing the radar. The radar tower ran automatically and was unmanned. There was also a marine traffic control tower, a manned station, located adjacent to the radar tower on the roof of the Gov. Nichols Street wharf. The manned station was occupied by one civilian employee of the USCG at a time, who would usually work a 12-hour shift. The top of the radar tower was accessed from the wharf by means of a vertical ladder on the side of the tower. The tower was approximately 100 feet tall, and the vertical ladder was continuous, without a cage installed around it. At the top of the ladder was a platform. The floor of the platform was made of metal grating with a hatch opening cut into the grating in order for employees to gain access to the platform. The grating used as a hatch cover for the hole had to be physically moved away from the opening so an employee could climb through, and it had to be repositioned once the employee was standing on the platform. The hatch did not fall back into place on its own, and it was not hinged to assist the employee in closing the opening. The platform had guard rails erected around the outside edge of the platform, which could have been used for tying off. On October 24, 2001, the field engineer had gone to the radar tower at the Gov. Nichols Street wharf in New Orleans to repair the radar and navigational light systems. He had worked on the system for most of the day on the 24th, and he left the site sometime late in the afternoon. On October 25, 2001, he had again gone to the tower, because the radar was still not functioning. He arrived at the tower at approximately 9:45 a.m. and got into his harness so he could tie off while climbing the ladder. The only witness to the accident was a civilian employee of the USCG. He stated that once the field engineer got to the top of the ladder, he had to physically move the platform grating out of the way to climb through the platform. Once on top of the platform, the field engineer was observed talking on his cell phone. After approximately 45 minutes, the field engineer called the tower and spoke with the witness. The field engineer stated that he was finished with the radar and was going to work on the navigational lights. The witness stated that was when the phone went staticky. He then saw the field engineer falling from the tower to the cement wharf below. The witness had to run across the roof of the wharf structure, down the steps, and back through the wharf structure to get to the field engineer, which took approximately 2 to 3 minutes. The field engineer had been killed. The witness stated that he had observed the field engineer working on the platform numerous times on each day. He stated that he would look out and check on the field engineer every 10 minutes or so. He stated that each time he observed the field engineer, he was not tied off. When the site was inspected after the accident, the grating over the ladder opening was still resting on the platform, leaving the opening exposed. The probable sequence of events in this instance was that the field engineer was speaking on his cell phone and walking to the navigational lights, which were located on the opposite side of the opening in the platform. Since the grating was not repositioned over the hole, the field engineer might have been preoccupied with his work and stepped into the opening instead of over it. Since he was not tied off, he fell through the opening. The witness stated that the field engineer seemed frustrated that he had to go back onto the tower to do what he had
Keywords: electrical, ppe, electronic technicn, tie-off, tower, e gi ii, platform, fall, fall protection, floor opening
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 304473861 Occupation not reported
2 304473853 Fatality Other Electrical and electronic technicians

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