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FACE Report: Roofer falls while constructing leading edge of metal roof


Photo: NIOSH

Case report: #71-237-2023
Issued by: Washington State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program
Date of report: April 10, 2023

A 35-year-old roofer was part of a nine-member crew constructing the leading edge of a metal roof on a warehouse. When the crew began the job about a week before, it installed anchors and nine lifelines on the low-pitch roof. On the day of the incident, the crew used a boom-supported elevating work platform to reach the rooftop. Each member wore a full-body harness. Shortly after work started, rain began to fall, making the roof slippery. The workers used the platform to get down but left their lifelines on the roof, about 20 feet from where they got off. When the rain stopped, they used the platform to get back onto the roof. The roofer was walking toward his lifeline and about 8 feet away from it when he fell from the unprotected edge. A witness said the roofer grabbed the steel framing as he fell but lost his hold and dropped 33 feet to the gravel warehouse floor. The foreman performed CPR, but the roofer died at the scene. Investigators found that fall protection roof anchors were installed with unapproved screws as well as fewer screws than specified by the manufacturer. In addition, multiple lifelines were attached to a single anchor, and lifelines were connected together and wrapped around beams. The employer didn’t have a required fall protection plan onsite, and a walkaround safety inspection hadn’t been documented.

To help prevent similar occurrences, employers should:

  • Develop policies that require workers to always remain attached to lifelines and place them so workers are able to reattach and maintain 100% tie-off when they move between platforms and other surfaces.
  • Provide and frequently reinforce training on proper use of fall protection equipment, with emphasis on always attaching before detaching when switching lifelines so workers maintain 100% tie-off.

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