Construction Worker Falls Through Hole

YB had worked in the construction industry for many years. He had his own company, and was a subcontractor on a major project involving the construction of a multistory parking garage. Preparation was in progress for pouring concrete to create another level. While waiting, he saw that there were some sheets of plywood on the floor. YB went over to where one of the sheets was located. Apparently, he was not aware that the sheet of plywood covered a hole. In the process of lifting the plywood sheet, he stepped into the opening and fell through the floor onto the concrete pavement below. YB died as a result of the injuries that he sustained in the fall.

HF Issue: Why did this accident occur, especially in view of YB's years of experience in the construction industry?



HF Investigation: Considerable time had elapsed between the accident and my investigation. I relied on accident and medical reports, the depositions of witnesses, as well as on photographs and diagrams of the parking structure.

HF Analysis: Based on all the available information, I determined the likely sequence of events that lead to the accident.
The sheet of plywood that covered the hole did not differ in general appearance from other sheets of plywood found at the site. More likely than not, YB lifted one end of the sheet of plywood and stepped forward as he pushed the board up onto its opposite edge.
It is unlikely that the hole would have entered YB's central visual field before he stepped into it.. Workers with many years of experience and excellent safety records are not immune to making errors. The board covering the opening should have been nailed to the floor and properly labeled so as to alert workers to the hidden hazard.
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