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FACE Report: Roofer falls 30 feet from rain-slick roof

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Case report: #71-203-2021
Issued by: Washington State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program
Date of incident: Nov. 12, 2019

A 45-year-old roofer died after he fell 30 feet from a rain-slick roof of an apartment building under construction. The roofer climbed up a ladder to the plywood deck of the 5/12 pitch roof. When he saw no anchor to clip his fall protection harness onto, he descended the ladder, retrieved an anchor and returned to the roof to install it on the roof ridge. While preparing to install his anchor, he fell and slid about 12 feet. As he slid, he grabbed roofing underlayment in an attempt to stop his descent but fell off the roof edge. As he fell, he struck a steel storage container and landed on the ground 30 feet below. First responders transported him to a hospital, where he died of blunt force injuries. Investigators found that the roofer’s harness had no lanyard attached to it, and he was wearing plastic rain pants, which could have accelerated his slide off the roof.

To help prevent similar incidents:

  • Before beginning a job, identify fall protection needs and ensure systems are in place to protect workers. This could include installing multiple anchorages positioned so that workers can safely move about the roof.
  • Always use fall protection during roofing operations.

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