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FACEValue: Teen laborer dies after fall from residential roof

NIOSH’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Reports

Date of incident: July 2, 2007

A 17-year-old female laborer died after falling 26 feet from a residential roof onto a stone patio. The victim was working as part of a construction crew replacing the roof, unloading bales of roofing shingles from a construction box that was raised and attached to a forklift. From inside the construction box, the victim placed the bales on a wooden plank approximately 4 feet above the box. She then climbed out of the box, sat on the plank and handed the bales to two workers on the roof. While working on the roof, one of the workers heard a loud “thud” sound and discovered the victim on the stone patio below, bleeding profusely from the head. The workers climbed down from the roof to assist, calling for the others to dial 911. According to an OSHA compliance office, it appeared as though the victim slid forward off the plank to re-enter the construction box when one leg of her shorts became caught on the top of a roof bracket holding the plank, causing her to lose balance and fall. Emergency medical services arrived and transported the victim to a local hospital, where she was stabilized and airlifted to another hospital, unconscious and in critical condition. She died nine days later.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Employers should comply with child labor laws that prohibit those younger than 18 to engage in occupations involving roofing. In this incident, the victim was a 17-year-old laborer performing work on a roof. Roofing work is designated as particularly hazardous and is prohibited for those younger than 18.
  • Employers should ensure workers are protected against falling while working at an elevation. Fall protection must be provided when fall hazards exist on a worksite. OSHA requires employers to provide fall protection devices to employees working at a site with unprotected sides and edges, 6 or more feet above a lower level. No fall protection was provided to any worker at the site of this incident.
  • Employers should ensure personnel platforms used on rough terrain forklifts have necessary safety features to protect workers. Employers should consult with the forklift manufacturer for assistance on safely constructing and attaching a personnel platform to a forklift. In this case, a homemade three-sided construction box was attached to the forks of the forklift and used for raising and lowering tools and materials. The victim was climbing in and out of the box, despite the fact that it did not have proper protections in place for such work.

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