NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Construction worker dies from 69-foot fall through roof opening.

Michigan State University
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 08MI015, 2009 Jun; :1-20
In the winter of 2008, a 19­year-old male construction worker fell from the roof of a five-story building through a 26-inch by 24-inch make-up air opening of an elevator shaft (chase ) to the concrete floor of the basement. Another contractor had placed a metal roof curb measuring 72 3/4-inches long by 40 3/4-inches wide by 14­inches high over the make-up air opening, but did not secure it to the roof. There was no marking either on the roof for the roof curb indicating the open shaft below. Because of an approaching storm, the company owner determined that the work area should be cleaned up and the plywood sheets located a few feet south of the make-up air opening secured. The decedent's two coworkers were walking toward the roof access stairs with tools and other construction materials and did not witness the decedent's work activity which led to his fall. It is postulated that the decedent was in the process of securing the nearby plywood sheets. It appears he was moving the make-up air roof curb so he could place it onto the plywood. The decedent lifted the north end of the curb but apparently did not check under the curb prior to pushing it forward toward the plywood sheets. Due to the size of the roof curb, as he pushed it forward he could not see the make-up air opening. He walked into the opening and fell to the basement's concrete floor. He was wearing a fall harness and lanyard, but was not tied off. Emergency response was summoned to the scene. The decedent was transported to a local hospital and was declared dead. Recommendations: 1.) Employers should ensure that employees on walking/working surfaces are protected from falling through holes more than 6 feet above lower levels by personal fall arrest systems, covers, or guardrail systems erected around such holes. Covers should be labeled and meet the requirements specified in the MIOSHA Fall Protection Standard. 2.) Construction employers should conduct a daily hazard assessment to identify and mitigate hazards, such as roof openings, to ensure employee safety. 3.) Construction employers should review MIOSHA Construction Safety and Health Standard, Part 45, Fall Protection to ensure understanding of the standard's requirements to effectively implement the standard at the work site and to provide appropriate employee training. 4.) The employer should develop and implement a written safety program, which should include the formation of a health and safety committee. 5.) Employers should require that all job site hazards are communicated on an ongoing basis to all workers required to be in the area. 6.) Employers on multi-employer sites should utilize contract language that clearly defines the safety responsibilities of each contractor prior to the initiation of work.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Brain-damage; Construction; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Occupational-safety-programs; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Training; Traumatic-injuries; Warning-signs; Work-areas; Work-operations; Work-practices; Author Keywords: Fall; Commercial Construction; Roof Opening; Roofer
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-08MI015; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008466
Priority Area
Wholesale and Retail Trade; Services
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University
Page last reviewed: December 17, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division