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Fatal work-related falls from roofs.

Suruda A; Fosbroke D; Braddee R
J Saf Res 1995 Mar; 26(1):1-8
An analysis of occupationally related fatal falls from roofs (FFR) accidents was performed. The NIOSH National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities database was searched to identify all FFR accidents occurring from 1984 through 1986. Attempts were made to match the identified deaths with OSHA fatality investigations conducted in 47 states during the same period to obtain details of the accidents. A total of 1,695 fatal work related falls occurred during the study period. Of these, 288 were FFRs. All but one of the FFR victims were males and all were single victim incidents. The mean age of the victims was 38.7 years. A total of 232 FFR accidents (80%) occurred in the construction industry. Special trade contractors accounted for the largest number of construction FFR deaths (172). Within this job category, roofing and structural steel erection accounted for the largest FFR accident rates, 18.00 and 15.69 deaths per 100,000 workers, respectively. A total of 138 FFR deaths in the NTOF database could be matched with OSHA investigation reports, and indicated that falls from roof perimeters and through roof structures accounted for 47 and 46% of the deaths, respectively. The height of the fatal falls varied from 9 to 175 feet. The available data indicated that 11 involved a roof hoist and 10 involved tripping or slipping over loose materials on pitched roofs. Of the fall through roof deaths, 42 were associated with poorly marked or unguarded roof openings, 24 of which were skylights. Of the skylight accidents, the skylight materials in 12 accidents could be identified as plastic or fiberglass. Twenty seven deaths occurred as a result of the victim falling through rotten roofs or roof structures that were not capable of supporting the worker's weight. The authors conclude that FFRs are a major cause of fatal work injury, and that falls through roof structures or from the roof perimeters account for most of the FFR accidents.
NIOSH-Author; Occupational-accidents; Accident-analysis; Mortality-data; Construction-industry; Roofers; Risk-analysis; Epidemiology; Accident-statistics; Work-areas
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Journal Article
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NIOSH Division
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Journal of Safety Research
Page last reviewed: February 4, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division