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FACEValue: Worker falls 18 feet from wet roof, dies

Image: NIOSH

Case report: #71-178-2019
Issued by: Washington Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program
Date of incident: March 8, 2018

A 50-year-old roofer died when he fell 18 feet from a residential roof. He had 20 years of experience as a roofer and had worked for his employer for two years. He was part of a three-person crew installing a metal roof on a two-story house. Shortly after 8 a.m., the crew was setting up for the day and light rain was falling. The victim, wearing a harness, climbed up a ladder and onto the roof, which had an 8/12 pitch. No one else was on the roof as he walked horizontally along it for about 25 feet. The crew supervisor was working below in the yard. After a few minutes, the supervisor called to the victim, but received no answer. He went looking for the victim and found him lying unconscious on a concrete patio. The victim died while being transported to a hospital. The cause of death was listed as “multiple blunt force injuries” resulting from the fall. The state investigator found that the rope grab lifeline was attached to a roof anchor, but the victim wasn’t tied off to it when he slid on the wet roof underlayment and fell.

To help prevent similar incidents:

  • Ensure workers exposed to fall hazards of 4 feet or higher while working on a roof with a pitch greater than 4/12 use one of the following systems: fall restraint, fall arrest or positioning device.
  • Ensure workers always use fall protection during roofing operations.

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