29.12.2011

Multiple causes for fatal fall

A garden centre owner/arborist fell to his death on Tuesday in the small village of Markersdorf-Taura to the north of Chemnitz in Eastern Germany.

The man, 34, was using a trailer lift to remove a tree that was interfering with the overhead electrical supply to the local rail museum when he fell around 10 metres from the platform, a Dino 160xt, which was left perfectly stable and unaffected.

An initial report from Dresden State Directorate said that an epileptic fit/seizure may have played a role in the accident. However the man was not wearing a harness and lanyard and it seems that the platform’s hinged drop bar was taped or wedged open, leaving an opening for him to fall out.
The scene after the emergency services had attended

It seems however that there were no witnesses and there are at least another two possible causes, including suicide and an impact on the boom causing him to be bounced out of the platform.
The platform entrance gate was jammed open

The man was a member of a horticultural trade association, which provides insurance to its members to cover such eventualities. It now says that it will consider the reporting of medical conditions for work at height coverage, possibly including regular occupational medical examinations.
Vertikal Comment
This is a very sad case, a young man has fallen to his death just two days after Christmas. While there has been a good deal of discussion in some markets this year regarding health checks and medicals on people operating cranes or platforms, this case, as with most such incidents, was totally avoidable.
If he had been wearing a harness and short lanyard, he would have remained in the platform at least, and if the gate had been closed he would not have also most likely remained in the platform.
It should also be noted that this was one of those exceptionally rare occasions where the simultaneous combination of unfortunate events and errors combine to cause a fatal outcome.

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