This Fatal Facts Toolbox Talk was created in support of OSHA’s Focus Four Training Campaign. OSHA representatives, safety professionals from GBCA member companies, and union representatives from the Building Trades Council of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania & Vicinity met to develop these safety resources to share with the region’s construction industry.

FATAL FACTS describe cases that are representative of employers who failed to identify and correct hazardous working conditions, leading to fatalities at their worksites. This document offers ideas on how to identify and correct these hazards, and to educate workers about safe work practices.

Click below to download the Toolbox Talk as a handout (includes Sign-In Sheet).




Fatal Facts: Fall from a Scaffold

Brief Description of Incident

A 70 year old male employee was performing work for a masonry company on a three-story multifamily residential structure when he fell and was fatally injured. The employee was one of five laborers performing their fourth day of bricklaying operations working on various levels of a tubular welded frame scaffolding system. The scaffolding system measured approximately 32 feet in elevation, and approximately 5 feet in width. The working platforms extended beyond the face of the building without guardrails exposing employees to fall hazards ranging between approximately 11’ to 25’. The employee was working on the end of an unprotected side bracket platform, which was 17 feet 8 inches above ground level. The employee was trying to raise the side bracket platform and fell from the unprotected edge of the scaffold. The employee sustained blunt impact injuries to his head and died one month later. Employees were also exposed to electrical, falling object, and collapsing hazards.

The employer did not have an accident prevention plan and did not provide employees with training on the hazards associated with working from scaffolding.


Likely Causes of Incident

The following are likely causal factors: major, unplanned, or unintended contributors of the incident. Eliminating causal factors would have either prevented the incident or reduced its
severity. It can also stop the potential frequency of similar incidents.

  • Lack of training for workers on scaffolds (Fall hazards, falling object hazards, electrocution hazards).
  • Proper fall protection (guardrails) was not in place.
  • Lack of inspection of scaffold by a competent person.


Incident Prevention

These actions could have prevented this incident:

  • Create a fall prevention plan.
  • Erect scaffold with fall protection (guardrails) and falling object protection (toe boards).
  • Train workers to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used and to understand the procedures to control or minimize those hazards.
  • Competent person inspection of scaffold before each shift to identify hazard and implement controls.


Hazard Prevention and Control

Remember the following to prevent and control the hazards that led to this incident:

  • Conduct site specific planning to ensure the proper components of the scaffold are available to eliminate hazards.
  • De-energize electrical lines that workers may come into contact.
  • Empower employees to feel safe to call out unsafe conditions and shut down the job if needed.


Can you provide any additional insights or suggestions on how to identify or avoid the hazards in this incident? Consider how other types of hazards could have also contributed to the fall hazards.

  • Discuss.


Toolbox Talk Safety Huddle Questions

Consider the following questions about the hazards and available resources on this jobsite:

  • What other fall hazards do you routinely address on your worksites?
  • What training do you provide for your employees that pertains to these hazards?
  • What types of prevention have you tried at your sites?
  • What approaches have worked well in controlling hazards?
  • Has anyone had any recent incident experiences? What went wrong? What was the corrective action?
  • What type of training has been provided to your supervisors?
  • Is there any tracking of their hazard identification and correction activities?
  • Does anyone do plan reviews after the project has started? Do the general plans get modified for site specific activities?



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