Photo courtesy Genie/Terex Corp.
Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, OSHA says.

Overturns and falls from height were the two leading causes of aerial-work-platform fatalities globally in the first half of the year, according to new data from the International Powered Access Federation.

The data, which U.K.-based IPAF has collected since 2012, each year consistently point to machine overturns and falls from height as the two leading causes of death among people working on or near lifts, with electrocution, entrapment and mechanical failure taking up the balance.

In the first half of 2014, IPAF recorded a total of 23 fatalities due to nine tip-overs, eight falls, two electrocutions, three entrapments and one mechanical failure. One of the entrapments was due to a person on the ground being struck by the base of a lift, the safety agency notes.

IPAF’s latest report does not show a significant difference between cause of death and the type of lift being operated. For example, mobile boom lifts accounted for five of the tip-overs in the first half of the year, with static-type lifts taking up four.

Despite these statistics, IPAF, which has issued more than 541,000 training cards to lift operators worldwide, says mobile-elevating work platforms (MEWPs) still contribute to safety on worksites as an alternative to other means of access, such as ladders or scaffolds.

“Accidents do occur, but we should keep in perspective that, with over one million rental units worldwide, MEWPs are one of the safest ways to do temporary work at height,” says Tim Whiteman, the non-profit safety agency’s CEO. “IPAF’s accident reporting project is designed to make a safe industry even safer.”

Anyone can report such accidents to IPAF’s website, which has, since early 2012, collected data on a worldwide basis (ENR 11/5/12 p. 17).

In the U.S., falls from height are the leading cause of death in construction. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, falls last year accounted for 294 out of 796 fatalities, or 37% of the total.