Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 2001-04 2002 Mar; :1-10
On January 17, 2001, a 15-year-old male laborer (the victim) died from injuries he sustained when he fell through a skylight to the lower ground level approximately 23 feet, 9 inches below. The company's president allowed the company's handyman to find someone to help him repair leaks in a flat roof over the company's three-sided warehouse. The handyman enlisted the help of his 15-year-old neighbor and brought him to the worksite. Neither the handyman nor laborer had received training in fall protection methods and no means of fall protection had been provided by the employer. They worked on the roof for approximately 6 hours, patching cracks with tar and gravel, and were nearly done with repairs, when the victim fell through an unguarded skylight. The handyman did not see the victim fall. Immediately following the incident, a worker inside the warehouse reported the incident to office personnel who immediately called 911. Personnel from the sheriff's office and emergency medical services (EMS) responded within 5 minutes. EMS personnel administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and transported the victim via ambulance to a local hospital emergency room where he was pronounced dead upon arrival. NIOSH investigators concluded that, in order to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should: 1) conduct a site inspection prior to beginning roofing work to identify all potential fall hazards present, and take appropriate steps to ensure that identified hazards are eliminated or controlled prior to the commencement of work activities; 2) develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive written safety program for all workers which includes training in hazard recognition, including but not limited to fall hazards, and the avoidance of unsafe conditions; 3) contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division, as well as the State agency responsible for child labor in their State, for guidance in complying with child labor laws which prohibit certain types of work by workers less than 18 years old, additionally; 4) building owners should consider installing permanent railings around skylight perimeters or protective covers over individual skylights to guard against falls through skylights by maintenance or other personnel who must access the roof; 5) designers/manufacturers of skylights should evaluate load capacities of current designs and consider strengthening skylight components and incorporating safeguards, such as protective screens, into skylight designs; 6) government agencies, school officials, and health and safety organizations should continue their efforts to inform the public about child labor laws, and parents should become familiar with occupations which are prohibited for minors.