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Seventeen-year-old window washer dies after falling 180 feet due to a rigging anchor failure - Pennsylvania.

NIOSH 2002 Feb; :1-6
A 17-year-old male window washer (the victim) died after falling 180 feet when the rigging suspending him failed. The victim was one of four window washers cleaning windows at a 20-story condominium complex. The victim, his 21-year-old brother and 35-year-old cousin were cleaning the windows on the outside of the complex while his 12-year-old brother kept the sidewalk clear of the ropes and debris below the window washers. On the 225-foot-high roof of the building, the victim tied the -inch woven 600-foot length of nylon rope (at its length midpoint) around a suspension bracket for one of several 8-inch feed and return steam lines located on the roof. He then tied a loop into one of the lengths of rope, approximately 5 feet from the midpoint attached to the bracket, and placed the loop over a 2-inch-diameter vent pipe protruding 8 inches upward from another steam line. The victim attached a descent control device to his harness and a boatswains chair to the other length of rope. He then stepped over the roof's parapet wall, and manipulating the descent control device, lowered himself down to the 20th-story windows and began to wash them. The victim had worked his way down to the 17th floor when the bracket and vent pipe to which he had attached the rope gave way, causing him to fall 180 feet to the ground. The Emergency Medical Service (EMS) was summoned by phone from inside the complex. EMS personnel responded and transported the victim to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to help prevent similar incidents, employers should: 1) ensure that when employees use descent control devices a separate fall arrest system, completely independent of the device and its support system, is also used; 2) ensure that a competent person evaluates and inspects all anchor points to be used by window washers prior to the start of work; 3) ensure that all employees, including part-time employees, are properly trained in all facets of the jobs they are to perform; 4) ensure that descent control devices are used in accordance with manufacturers' specifications and that employees are trained in the proper use of such equipment, additionally; 5) building owners who have routine maintenance performed on their buildings should consider the installation of permanent anchor points.
Region-3; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Age-factors; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-safety-programs; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Training; Window-cleaning; Traumatic-injuries
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Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health