Safety Tips FACE Reports

FACEValue: Roofer killed by falling bag of gravel

Case report: #10-MA-032-01*

Issued by: Massachusetts Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program

Date of incident: Oct. 26, 2011

A 39-year-old roofer was working as part of a crew repairing the roof of a building. The victim was standing on the ground when a bag loaded with gravel fell from the roof. The bag weighed approximately 40 pounds and was being lowered from the roof using a portable manual rope pulley system. The bag fell three-and-a-half stories, striking the victim in the head. A co-worker immediately called the company owner, and the owner called emergency medical services. The victim was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Ensure only rope pulley systems with brakes are used for hoisting and lowering tasks. In this case, no one was sure of the date the rope pulley system was manufactured or the manufacturer, but the employer reported that it was old when he purchased it and the system was not equipped with a brake. Newer rope pulley systems are available with brake systems.
  • Develop standard operating procedures for using rope pulley systems that include voice and hand signals and barricading off the pulley’s fall zone.
  • Develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive safety and health program that addresses hazard recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions.

*This report is the product of NIOSH’s Cooperative State partner. The findings and conclusions in each report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of NIOSH.