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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 201340551 - Employee Injured In Fall From Catwalk

Accident: 201340551 -- Report ID: 0729700 -- Event Date: 02/03/1999
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
30101609302/09/19992048Seaboard Farms Inc.
At approximately 8:30 p.m. on February 3, 1999, Employee #1 stepped into or fell through an unguarded floor opening, falling approximately 24 feet. The employee sustained trauma to his head and lower back and was paralyzed from the waist down. There were no witnesses to the accident. On or about February 1, 1999, employees from the maintenance section of the feed mill began installing a fixed industrial ladder in the north truck load-out bay. The facility was constructed in 1996 and the only access to the third-floor catwalk was through the main building, through the control room and some offices, and out a door onto the catwalk. The catwalk was principally used by maintenance personnel, plant operators, and truck loaders. Plant management decided to install a fixed industrial ladder for maintenance personnel and truck loaders to access the catwalks from the truck load-out bay. Maintenance personnel, who were assigned the task, first fabricated the metal ladder in the maintenance shop on site. On or about February 3, 1999, maintenance personnel cut away the grate in the northeast corner of the third-floor catwalk to install the ladder, which had to extend above the third floor catwalk walking/working surface. Work on the ladder was going smoothly, until it came time to install the swing gate needed to guard the floor opening for access to the ladder. Maintenance personnel did not have the proper hardware to mount the gate and would have had to pick it up from a hardware store the following day. In lieu of the swing gate, caution tape was strung from the railing to the wall at the floor opening. However, employees at the facility were not advised of the condition and were unaware of the hazard. As a part of the plant operator's duties, the operator physically checked the grain bins to determine how full they were and to ensure that no grain was stuck to the walls of the bins. This aspect of the job required the operator to take a rubber mallet and strike the walls of the grain bins from the third floor catwalk. The only lights in the bay were approximately 6 feet below the third-floor catwalk; therefore, the catwalk area was dark during evening hours. The total height of the ladder was 29 feet 2 inches. The third-floor catwalk was located 24 feet above the ground. There was nothing in Employee #1's daily habit to indicate that he was doing anything unusual at the time of the accident. Due to the low level of light, the lack of knowledge that a hazard was present, and the employee's normal duties, it was presumed that Employee #1 was knocking grain loose from the bin walls and did not see the caution tape. The employee either fell through the floor opening or lost his balance and fell through. The employee was hospitalized for his injuries.
Keywords: fracture, fixed ladder, back, catwalk, fall, floor opening, lost balance, grain bin, unguarded, work surface
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 301016093 Hospitalized injury Fracture Occupation not reported

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