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A window washer died as the result of a 40-foot fall from the roof of a three-story building.

Ohio Department of Health
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 99OH063, 1999 Aug; :1-5
On Wednesday, February 3, 1999 a 22 year old window washer fell 40 feet from a three-story building sustaining multiple head injuries. He died Thursday February 4, 1999 as a result of the injuries sustained in the fall. A local window cleaning company that has been in business for more than one hundred years employed the victim. The company had no history of any fatal injuries before this incident. The victim had worked for the company for more than three years. He had cleaned the windows of this building on other occasions. The victim was training an employee in the use of the boatswain chair technique to wash windows. According to the report prepared by the OSHA investigator, the two workers set up the equipment by anchoring the roof roller to the air conditioning unit with one line, the safety or lifeline. The other line, the work line, was affixed to the roof roller and was not anchored to any site on the roof. The two workers successfully washed the windows on the front (north) of the building. They then returned to the roof to reposition the roof roller (scaffolding) in order to wash the windows on the side of the building (east). The co-worker disconnected the safety or lifeline securing the roof roller to its anchorage on the building's air conditioning unit, and had not yet attached it to its new anchorage. The co-worker had his back to the victim and did not see the victim attach his safety harness to the safety line of the roof roller and go over the edge of the building. The victim and the unsecured roof roller were found in the alley on the east side of the building. The victim was transported by fire department medics to the nearest level one trauma center, where he died the next day. Recommendations: 1. Test equipment before going over the side of a building to ensure proper anchorage of scaffolding. 2. Trainer should personally check all equipment especially when engaged in training exercises. 3. Suggest the use of specific anchorage devices for window cleaning equipment. 4. Emphasize communication and cooperation between co-workers. 5. Maintain separate anchorage points for safety lines and work lines. 6. Recommend the use of protective headgear.
Region-5; Window-cleaning; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-99OH063; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-513934
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Ohio Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division