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FACEValue: Maintenance worker killed in roof fall

NIOSH’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Reports

Date of incident: Dec. 26, 2007

A 42-year-old maintenance worker was killed after he fell approximately 40 feet from the roof of a three-story apartment building. At the time of the incident the victim was working alone, repairing a leak in the roof. The worker had been employed by a property management company for 14 months. The company did not provide any formal safety training to its employees, held no safety meetings, and had no written injury and illness prevention program. The victim was working on a flat roof with a central opening to the patio below. No warning lines or guardrails surrounded the opening. The area with the leak was located about 35 feet away from any unprotected roof edge. The worker was not using any type of fall protection system. It is unknown exactly what task the worker was performing at the time of the incident. A tenant of the building heard him walking on the roof and shortly thereafter heard a loud thumping noise. Tenants saw the worker lying on the cement patio and notified the building manager, who called emergency services. The worker was declared dead at the scene.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Ensure fall protection is used when workers are performing rooftop repairs. The victim in this case was working on a three-story roof without fall protection. Had fall protection been provided, the accident could have been avoided or the worker’s injuries may have been less severe. Fall protection options include guardrails, safety nets and personal fall protection systems, such as harnesses. Because the roof in this incident was flat, warning lines also could have been used.
  • Develop and implement a safety training program for employees. The company involved in this incident had no safety or training programs in place for employees. Documented training and an injury and illness prevention program have been proven to help employees receive and understand all necessary safety information. An effective injury and illness prevention program should include the following:
    • Names of people with the authority and responsibility to implement an injury and illness prevention program
    • A system for ensuring employees comply with safe work practices
    • A system for communicating with employees in a manner that is readily understandable, including provisions to encourage employees to inform the employer of any workplace hazards without fear of reprisal

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