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Fifteen-year-old worker falls from roof of building in Washington State.

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
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 98WA113, 2002 Feb; :1-17
On August 17, 1998, a 15-year-old window washer's helper (the victim) died after falling 40 ft. from the roof of a medical office building. The helper was stationed on the roof to move a window washing carriage and assist the window washer, who worked from a boatswain's chair as he cleaned the windows of the 4-story building. On the afternoon of the incident, the window washer seated himself in the boatswains' chair and positioned himself over the edge of the roof's parapet. He then "bounced" in the boatswain's chair to make sure it was set to go. Because the carriage was not tied down and did not have counterweights attached, the carriage was pulled over the rooftop's parapet. Both workers had their fall arrest harnesses secured to the carriage. The window washer fell straight down while the helper was pulled from the roof by the carriage and struck the ground head-first. The local emergency medical unit was summoned immediately. The window washer's helper died from his injuries at the scene and the window washer suffered multiple severe injuries. To prevent similar occurrences, the Washington Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Investigative team concluded that window washers should follow these recommendations: 1. Anyone working on, or from a roof with a fall exposure should be tied off with a safety line. The safety line should be attached to a specifically engineered independent anchorage point. 2. The window washer's "portable support device" (carriage) should be set up with appropriate counterweights and tie-backs. The tie-backs need to be attached to approved, specifically engineered anchorage points. 3. All persons who work at heights, should be trained, educated, and knowledgeable in all aspects of the safe use of their tools and equipment and be made aware of all the hazards related to their job. 4. Work safety and fall protection plans should be developed and implemented at all work sites. 5. Employers need to effectively supervise and coach employees who have little or no experience in performing high-risk jobs, such as working at heights in the window washing industry. 6. Employers should have a clear understanding of and abide by child labor laws that prohibit persons less than 18 years old from working in occupations that are declared to be hazardous. 7. Building owners and contractors should conduct pre-job inspections to review job requirements and safe work plans. 8. Safer methods to conduct high-risk jobs should be sought.
Region-10; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Window-cleaning
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-98WA113; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-013928
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division