Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"Worker Error" Says Scaffold Contractor That Killed Three

As expected, Macomber Builders, the contractor for the site where a scaffold fell last week, killing two workers and a motorist, has released a report blaming the accident on "worker error" -- one of the workers killed had apparently removed the last metal tie connecting the scaffolding to the building that should not have been removed without first securing the platform to a crane.

The crane, according to the company, wasn't scheduled to arrive until April 29, almost a month after the crane was dismantled.

Another article revealed that the company had failed to produce training documentation for two of three laborers working on the equipment.
Under federal regulations, contractors must show that laborers are adequately trained to use their equipment - and failure to do so could mean harsh penalties as a federal probe deepens.

Attempts to get comment from Macomber Builders were unsuccessful and a spokeswoman for subcontractor Bostonian Masonry would not answer questions.
As we have discussed numerous times at this site, as the letter to the Boston Globe (below) by Marcy Goldberg Gelb and Ted Comick explained, and as most safety experts agree, there is some kind of human "mistake" involved in almost every accident, but the true root cause of almost every workpace accident is a management system error, not worker error.

"Management system errors" don't mean an error by a manager, but rather such things as tolerating or encouraging frequent deviation from safe procedures, prioritizing schedule over safety, not providing training to workers, ignoring past warnings and close calls, and lack of oversight by supervisors or enforcement agencies.

The good thing about identifying management system errors is that by correcting them (as opposed to just firing the "bad" worker), you not only would have prevented the main incident, but similar incidents in the future as well.

I would bet there's a lot more of this story to be told.

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