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FACEValue: Worker dies after falling through skylight

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Case report: #17MI045
Issued by: Michigan State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program
Date of incident: Spring 2017

A 20-year-old plasterer or drywall installer died after falling through a 24-by-48-inch plastic bubble-covered skylight. The victim was working on a flat roof next to the skylight, in an area cluttered with demolition debris. After applying adhesive to the back of an expanded foam board, he handed the board to the firm owner and walked back to the prep area. The owner heard a “crack or crunching” sound, and saw the victim sitting on the skylight cover, which “gave out.” The victim fell more than 30 feet to the concrete floor below. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, then airlifted to a second hospital, where he was pronounced dead after going into cardiac arrest en route. The victim had not received fall protection training and was not given or wearing fall protection. The owner said this was the first time his firm had worked around skylights.

To help prevent similar incidents, employers should:

  • Develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive written health and safety program that includes safety requirements when working near/around roof openings and skylights.
  • Ensure all workers required to work near roof openings or skylights are adequately trained to recognize the hazards.
  • On multi-employer sites, use contract language that clearly defines the safety responsibilities of each contractor before work begins.

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