Reaching Higher - Recommendations for the Safe Use of Mast Climbing Work Platforms

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CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training

Summary Statement

Presentation on the recommendations on the safe use of mast climbing work platforms, also known as mast climbers, based on input from a work group of representatives from industry, government, and labor.
December 2010


Developed by the CPWR Work Group on Mast Climbing Work Platforms

Presented to the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health December 9, 2010

Pam Susi, MSPH CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training


  • CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training (formerly the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights)
  • Private non-profit created by the Building and Construction Trades Dept., AFL-CIO
  • Conducts research on construction safety and health & serves as NIOSH “Construction Center”
  • Located in Silver Spring, MD with field staff throughout the U.S.


Why we are interested

  • Relatively new scaffold system in the US
  • Use is increasing
  • OSHA Standards don’t specifically address
  • Painters Union and Philadelphia Building Trades approached CPWR following the deaths of 2 workers from 2 separate incidents in one year (2003)

collapsed mastclimber

Work group formed in 2006 co-chaired by labor and management

Work group formed in 2006 co-chaired by labor and management

Composition of Work Group

  • Co-chairs: Stephen Martini, International Masonry Institute (IMI) & Jim Kinateder, Fred KinatederMasonry, Inc.
  • Manufacturers, government, construction industry (labor & management)
  • Organizations
    • CPWR
    • Scaffold Industry Association/ANSI A92.9
    • IMI
    • Sheet Metal Workers, Bricklayers, Painters, Laborers
    • OSHA
    • NIOSH

Goals of Workgroup

  • Research causes of accidents
  • Assess adequacy of current regulations, industry standards and other measures to prevent injury with mast scaffold use
  • Make recommendations with the goal of preventing injuries and death associated with mast climbing platform use

Previous Interaction with ACCSH

  • Presented at ACCSH September 11, 2008
  • Prior presentations given by Dr. Mohammad Ayuband Kevin O’Shea
  • Motion made and carried to recommend that OSHA update standards “as expeditiously as possible” to address mast scaffolds

mak it safe poster

CPWR White Paper –Reaching Higher

  • Intended for use by regulators and specifiers
  • Provides background on mast climber use, advantages & hazards
  • Offers consensus recommendations for safe use

CPWR White Paper –Reaching Higher

Serious & Fatal Mast Climber Incidents*

Incident Site Year Outcome Incident Details
Binghamton, NY 2010 4 injuries
1 seriously injured
platform fell 60 ft.; eye-witnesses say platform was overloaded
Columbia, MO 2009 1 fatality/53 yr-old Bricklayer Mast climber equipment failure; two simultaneous failures of different mechanisms within seconds of each other caused platform to drop 2 stories
Austin, TX 2009 2009 3 deaths: 27-, 28-, & 30-yr old workers; employed by framing & stucco contractor 2 workers fell more than 100 ft. (11-13 stories); 3rdworker fell a few stories to roof of 7-floor garage. Mast climber improperly erected; some parts and materials were sub-standard or below required grade for actual loads used
Ann Arbor, MI 2008 1 death: 32 yr-old Journeyman Bricklayer 40-ft. fall; worker stepped back off unguarded end; Michigan OSHA issued 3 willful citations; in 2010, state charged employer with a felony for violating MIOSHA regulations and causing the death of an employee
Boston, MA 2006 3 deaths: foreman and laborer employed by masonry contractor; 3rdvictim was a doctor driving by job 14-story job; mast climber collapsed during dismantling; temporary support beams and loads on mast platform subjected to excess load stress and torsion (twisting) when last anchor was removed
Brick, NJ 2003 1 death 40-ft. fall; plank slid out from worker; not enough bearing under plank
Camden, NJ 2003 1 death
1 seriously injured Glaziers
Approximately 40-ft. fall; dismantling failure at level of 1st anchor; platform unstable; unbalanced load; mast climber was not stabilized when removing anchors
Philadelphia, PA 2003 1 death Glazier 85-ft. fall; bad bridging/improper modification and removal of guard rail; worker had no training on mast climbers
Pensacola, FL 1998 1 death
1 injured
60-ft. fall; contractor failed to use mechanism to prevent platform from traveling upward; platform kept rising and fell to the ground
Miami, FL 1995 3 deaths
2 injured
platform overloaded and configured in a manner inconsistent with its design; contractor did not follow manufacturer’s load tables or OSHA safety factor; corrosion of components
Alma, MI 1992 2 deaths
46-ft. fall; plywood bridging used for 4-ft. opening between platform and walls; plywood failed from weight of 2 masons and a beam
Virginia 1990 1 death attempting to climb from platform into window opening (approx. 3-ft. reach); slipped off sill and fell 6 floors

*Incomplete list based on published information and personal communication

Summary of Incidents –Twelve events and 18 deaths

Contributing Factor Numberof incidents Number of fatalities
Fall hazards 4 4
Loading issues 3 5
Failure to use correct partsor faulty configuration 2 4
Instabilityof mast climber during dismantling 2 4
Equipment failure 1 1

White Paper Content

  • Background on Mast Climber use, history, advantages and hazards
  • Summary of fatal incidents
  • Recommendations for Safe Use developed by consensus of full work group
  • Detailed outline for a 4-hour user/training program (also developed through consensus)
  • Resources/associations

Major Recommendations

  • Training
    • For anyone who works on a mast climber; operates or erects and dismantles
    • Additional site and model specific training
  • Engineering and administrative controls
    • Greater involvement of persons qualified in structural engineering where needed
    • Language on anchorage systems
    • Load tables
    • Use of enclosures/tarps
    • Inspection and maintenance
    • Access & egress and limits on vertical climbs

Vertical Climbs

  • Job Hazard Analysis required
  • Platforms must be lowered to prevent vertical climbs > 20’
  • Where equipment is designed for and job site conditions require climbs >20’, safe methods statement required and rest platform every 20’
  • Fall protection required for climbs over 10’
  • Defined responsibilities for manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, users and owners
  • Specific qualifications and roles of parties
    • Safety person
    • Person qualified in structural engineering
    • Operators and users
    • contractor

vertical climber

Act on Regulatory and Consensus Standards

  • OSHA standards are inadequate in addressing mast climbers and should be strengthened in accordance with the above recommendations.
  • ANSI standard A92.9-1993 should be modified to include any of the above recommendations that are not currently contained in the standard. Specifically, ANSI should adopt the above recommendations that relate to:
    • Training
    • Access to mast climbers, including fall protection for climbs over 10 feet
    • Site safety personnel and over-sight
    • Engineering controls

Supportof BCTD Safety & Health Committee

  • AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Safety & Health Committee support White Paper Recommendations
  • Established Mast Scaffold Sub-Committee
  • Plan to work with other groups like SIA & IPAF in development of training


Comments/Questions/Next Steps