Five construction workers were killed last month in two separate scaffolding collapse incidents.

According to ABC Eyewitness News 11, one incident occurred in downtown Raleigh, N.C. A construction platform supporting workers on the Charter Square building collapsed killing 41-year-old Jose Erasmo Hernandez, of Durham; 33-year-old Jose Luis Lopez-Ramirez, of Clinton; and 33-year-old Anderson Almeida, of Durham. Another man, Elmer Guevara, 53, was hospitalized.

Choate, the contractor on the project, said the scaffolding was a "mast climber" design, which is a platform that goes up the side of a building on a vertical column. It was in the process of being lowered when it came down ...

The situation was much the same in Toronto, according to CTV News Toronto:

Two workers have died following after a scaffolding collapse at a condominium construction site in Toronto's west end.

The workers were apparently doing brick work several stories above the ground when they came crashing down.

It happened at 1830 Bloor St., close to High Park ...  A representative of the Bricklayer's Mason's Independent Union told CTV Toronto “all safety precautions were taken and this was just an accident.”

Falls from elevation remain a leading cause of death for construction workers, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and both incidents are under investigation.

Responding to these tragedies, industry representatives are prompting proactive training and employer education. A joint statement from industry trade organizations The International Powered Access Federation and the Scaffold & Access Industry Association reads in part:

The Mast-Climbing Work Platform Committee/Council of IPAF and SAIA are saddened by the accidents in Raleigh, North Carolina and Toronto, Canada. We would like to extend our sympathies and prayers to the families of those who lost their lives and were injured in these tragic events. This emphasizes the importance, especially in light of the current resurgence in construction, of training, continuing education as well as inspection of equipment.

Since their introduction in the 1960’s, Mast-Climbing Work Platforms (MCWPs) have been used extensively without incident throughout many sites worldwide and in the USA and Canada. Mast-Climbing Work Platforms are popular with an array of trades including the masonry, stucco, glass and refurbishment industries where they can offer safety, productivity and ergonomic benefits. When installed and used correctly they are as safe as or safer than other forms of powered access or scaffold.

The key to the safe use of mast climbers is appropriate training. This has led manufacturers and industry bodies to develop robust training programs for both erectors and operators of Mast-Climbing Work Platforms.