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Workers fall when unsecured bin tips off elevated forks

Date of incident: April 2013
Notice of incident: 2013156240066
Employer: Commercial high-rise construction company

Incident summary
Boxes of drywall compound needed to be delivered to the second floor of a hotel under construction. The boxes were loaded into a job-built waste bin that had been placed unsecured on the forks of a telehandler. The telehandler was then elevated to a second-floor patio door. Workers inside the building began unloading the boxes through the patio door. Another worker entered the elevated bin to help unload; he had no fall protection. When about 10 boxes remained on one side of the bin, the bin flipped sideways off the forks of the telehandler. The worker in the bin fell about 17 feet (5 metres) to the ground and received multiple injuries. A second worker at the patio door fell forward, grabbed onto the forks of the telehandler, and was lowered to the ground; he sustained minor injuries.

Investigation conclusions

  • Worker and unsecured waste bin fell from telehandler forks: A worker was in a waste bin elevated by a telehandler and was unloading boxes of drywall compound when the unsecured bin flipped off the forks. The worker fell onto a small pile of waste concrete and received multiple injuries. The bin fell because it was not secured properly to the telehandler and was unloaded unevenly.
  • Second worker fell from unguarded window: A second worker was at an unguarded patio door, receiving materials. When the first worker fell with the bin, the second worker fell forward, grabbed the forks of the telehandler, and was lowered to the ground. He sustained minor injuries.

Underlying factors

  • Uncertified job-built waste bin used as work platform: The job-built waste bin was intended to be placed against windows and openings of the building so the waste construction materials could be removed from the building. The bin was not engineered or certified as a work platform for workers to occupy.
  • Unsafe work procedures: When outside access to the second floor was restricted, it forced a change in procedures. Workers were told months before the incident that outside access would be restricted and that they should use fall protection; however, there were no changes in procedures to ensure safety. The operator of the telehandler directed his attention away from the elevated load, which was not secured properly, to direct traffic. A worker entered the bin, which was being used as an uncertified work platform, to unload materials and hand them to another worker at the patio door; neither worker was using fall protection. Multiple unsafe work procedures resulted in this incident.
  • Lack of fall protection system: Two workers were not using any components of a proper fall protection system while working approximately 17 feet (5 metres) above grade. One worker fell out of the bin, landing on a small pile of waste concrete, and the worker at the second-floor patio door fell forward and grabbed the elevated forks of the telehandler.
  • Inadequate supervision and training: The operator of the telehandler did not receive adequate supervision, instruction, or training to prevent this incident. The drywall workers did not have training, instruction, or supervision to know that fall protection was required and that the waste bin was not designed or certified for workers to occupy.

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Publication Date: Apr 2013 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2013156240066