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Overview of deaths and injuries caused by falls through roof and floor openings and surfaces, including skylights, 1992-1998.

Bobick TG; Long DJ
Power Through Partnerships: 12th Annual Construction Safety and Health Conference, May 21-23, 2002, Rosemont, Illinois. Hillside, IL: Construction Safety Council, 2002 May; :370-374
Occupational injuries and fatalities caused by falling is a serious problem throughout the United States. Data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, which is maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), were analyzed. The analyses indicate that during the 7 -year period 1992 through 1998, a total of 4,507 workers died as the result of a fall. Of these. 3,964 (88 %) involved a fall to a lower level. An important sub-set of the "falls to a lower level" category involves workers falling through an opening in the floor or roof, or through a floor or roof surface including skylight fixtures already installed. During this 7-year period, 430 workers lost their lives by falling through something - 217 workers (50.5%) died by falling through existing openings (openings created for stairs, elevators, or skylights); 98 workers (22.8 %) died when they fell through already-installed skylight fixtures; and, 115 deaths (26.7%) occurred when workers fell through an existing roof or floor surface. Of the 430 deaths a total of 330 (76.7%) were employed in the construction industry. A total of 76 different occupations were involved in the 430 fatalities. The audience for this workshop will learn which occupations have the greatest number of fatalities caused by falling through (a) skylights, (b) roof openings, (c) floor openings, or (d) roof and floor surfaces. In addition to fatalities, numerous injuries result from these "fall-through" events. Because of the circumstances associated with these incidents, the resulting injuries are among the most severe cases, in terms of median number of "days away from work." Analysis of the Survey of Occupational Injuries and lllnesses (SOII) database, also maintained by BLS, indicates that 18,320 injuries occurred during the 7-year period, 1992-1998. The total number of days away from work for these injuries was calculated to be 291,572. Results from this study, which will be presented, will provide the audience with an understanding of the severity of injuries that occurred during the years 1992 to 1998 when workers fell through (a) floor openings, (b) floor surfaces. (c) roof openings, (d) roof surfaces and (e) existing skylights. These analyses highlight the significance of "fall-through" types of events. The analyses identify the need to modify current work practices and to utilize appropriate existing fall-prevention technologies.
Occupational hazards; Injuries; Construction workers; Construction industry; Traumatic injuries; Mortality data; Mortality rates; Occupational safety programs; Roofers; Roofing industry; Injury prevention; Risk factors; Risk analysis; Hazards; Safety measures; Safety education; Floors
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Power Through Partnerships: 12th Annual Construction Safety and Health Conference, May 21-23, 2002, Rosemont, Illinois
Page last reviewed: March 3, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division