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Construction Falls: Skylight Safety

Falls are the number one cause of fatalities in construction, accounting for one in three deaths, or roughly 267 people every year in the US
May 27, 2018

You should not have to die to do your job. This video is from OSHA, depicting an actual situation where a roofer thought he was safe, but he was not.


In the US, more that 800 construction workers die every year while on the job. Falls are the number one cause of fatalities in construction. Falls cause one of every three construction worker deaths. These falls happen in a split second while workers are on roofs, scaffolds, ladders, bridges and other work surfaces.

These deaths can be prevented.

This video shows how quickly falls at construction sites falls can lead to workers' deaths. The video also shows what employers must do so that the work can be done more safely. Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace and requires safety protection. You will see that using the right type of fall protection saves lives.

Please be advised: the scene deals with death at a construction site and may be disturbing for some people. This scene is based on a true story.

The Brittle Skylight

Two roofers were reroofing a two-story townhome. They were not wearing any personal fall protection but guard rails were installed on the roof. The roof was pitched and there was one skylight in the area where the roofers were working.

One worker was using a nail gun to install new shingles over the single layer of old shingles.

He was installing shingles near the center of the roof near an unguarded skylight. A co-worker was setting shingles.

As the worker nailed shingles near the unguarded skylight, he stepped backward into it. The skylight was not strong enough to hold his weight and it broke. He fell through the skylight 15 feet and landed on the floor below.

He was badly injured and died two days later at the hospital.

Let's look at the events leading up to this tragic incident and see how it could have been prevented

The roof already had guardrails, so the employer thought his workers were protected against fall hazards.

But he was wrong.

When the roofer was installing shingles near the skylight, the skylight was only covered with a translucent dome.

Now, the skylight is covered with a cover that meets OSHA requirements.

As before, the worker is nailing in shingles. Now, as he steps backward, instead of stepping into the skylight, he bumps into the cover, regains his footing, and continues shingling.

This example shows the importance of employers following OSHA's fall protection standards to ensure that workers are provided with a safe workplace.

These types of construction deaths ARE preventable. The fall protection methods shown here save workers lives.

Use fall protection on the job. It could be the difference between life or death.

For more information, contact OSHA at www.osha.gov or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742)

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