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Request for assistance in preventing worker deaths and injuries from falls through skylights and roof openings.

Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 90-100, 1989 Dec; :1-8
This Alert described eight deaths resulting from falls that occurred during work around openings in roofs including skylights and skylight openings. OSHA standards clearly regulate the guarding of skylights and other roof openings. It was noted that the United States Department of Labor lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for 8% of all occupational fatalities from trauma in 1986. Of the 3,491 such deaths during 1980 through 1985, 28 resulted from falls through skylights and 39 from falls through roofs or roof openings. In all eight of the case reports offered in this Alert, employers and workers violated the applicable OSHA regulations. Compliance with these regulations might have prevented all eight deaths. In many of these cases the skylights through which the victims fell were covered with translucent plastic domes. These do not always provide sufficient strength to serve as a barrier protection against falls. NIOSH urged compliance with applicable standards including: that railings or screens guarding all skylights and other openings in roofs be in place before work on the roof begins; that employers provide protection against falls before workers begin any operations that include the potential for serious falls; that alternative forms of protection including fixed covers, catch platforms, or safety nets be utilized; that employees working near roof openings or skylights be adequately trained in hazard recognition and safety practices; that manufacturers or purchasers of skylights affix conspicuous decals to the skylight warning individuals against sitting or stepping on these units; and that manufacturers modify the design of the skylights to strengthen them.
Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Traumatic-injuries; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Mortality-data; Safety-measures
Publication Date
Document Type
Numbered Publication; Alert
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 90-100
NIOSH Division
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division