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FACEValue: Warehouse worker dies after falling through skylight

NIOSH's Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Reports

Date of incident: July 22, 2009

A 56-year-old warehouse worker was killed after he fell approximately 30 feet through a skylight and onto a concrete floor. The victim had been employed at the warehouse for about seven years and was the chairperson for the facility’s safety committee. His normal duties included filling customer orders and replacing stock within the warehouse. On the morning of the incident, an air-conditioning company technician climbed to the roof of the warehouse and turned off one of the A/C units to service it. When the technician opened the unit’s front panel, a swarm of bees came out, and the technician climbed down from the roof and informed the victim’s manager that the unit could not be serviced. The victim offered to climb to the roof of the warehouse to see if he could service the unit and turn it back on, and his supervisor agreed to let him. The company manager and the victim climbed to the roof and saw the swarm of bees. The manager climbed down from the roof but noticed that the victim did not follow him. Workers in an adjoining business heard a loud noise, and one of those workers was sent to investigate. A few minutes later, the worker found the victim lying injured on the warehouse floor and radioed for help. Emergency responders arrived within minutes and performed CPR on the victim. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

To prevent future occurrences:

Workers should not perform any duties outside the scope of their normal jobs. The victim was performing a task that was not part of his job description. Although the employer had a written injury and illness prevention program and an active safety committee, the employer had no policies or procedures to ensure workers did not perform hazardous tasks outside of their usual jobs. Servicing equipment on roofs should only be performed by qualified technicians who have been trained on appropriate safety procedures.

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