The Case of a Fallen Welder from the Gymnasium Scoreboard

Scoreboard Winch 25’ above Gym FloorThe Problem:

A legal dispute was about accountability for safety by the plaintiff (welder) versus the owner and contractor during a scoreboard replacement assignment at a public gymnasium. The issue was availability of anchor points for the safety lanyard in accordance with OSHA CPL 2-0.214 Multi-Employer Citation Policy. Plaintiff claimed the owner failed to divulge anchor points for lanyard attachments.

My Assessment:

Scoreboard on Floor Beneath WinchCommon OSHA rules and regulations did not apply in this public gymnasium. There were owner and contractor policies and practices for worker safety when on a scaffold or man-lift. These policies were not enforced in this event. Safety policies at this elevated workplace were by-passed. The welder, an independent worker, failed to utilize the available truss anchor points with his safety lanyard when in his workplace that was 25’ above the gym floor.

The contractor hired the welder and had the responsibility to take whatever action was required so that welder used anchors, equipment, scaffolding and the personnel-lift in the workplace with reasonable safety. The welder failed to adhere to workplace safety protocols contained in the contractor’s and the owner’s safety manuals. There were easily accessible instructions for safety in AWS Z49.1 Safety In Welding Cutting and Allied Processes, and 29 CFR 1910 Subpart Q.

The Consequences:

Welder Safety Harness & LanyardThere were multiple, accessible anchor points for the welder to attach his safety lanyard at the overhead truss beams. Each of the anchor points could support a load greater than 5,400 pounds. The safety lanyard had adequate length for the overhead workplace inside the scoreboard. The incident could have been avoided. The welder fell and was injured in his sudden stop at the gym floor.

The Lessons Learned:

The owner should always enforce workplace safety policies and practices for all workers entering the premises. The owner, contractor and welder have mutual responsibilities for workplace safety. The welder should have attached his 72” lanyard at one of 3 truss anchor points and welded while wearing a safety lanyard and body harness.