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The Contractor Coaching Partnership Blog

When will the contractor carnage from falls stop?

Posted by Mark Paskell on Mon, Aug 05, 2013 @ 07:45 PM

Another contractor falls and dies as a result of inadequate fall protection in Massachusetts. In my last blog post I wrote about a well known and liked man from Cape Cod. Everything I read about him says he was a great guy who loved umpiring Cape Cod League games. A newspaper article said his wife was the sweetheart of his life and he loved his grandchildren.

This tragic event has been on my mind for several days now and I wonder what we (residential industry trainers and coaches) can do as an industry to stop the preventable carnage.

I wonder what I can do to convince more contractors to stop, think, plan and prepare for safety before they go up the ladder or staging. Just a few minutes for a tool box talk can prevent an accident.

I wish I had the opportunity to train Mr. McNally on fall protection and tell him that his life is important and one fall can end it all. I would have shown him real and recent examples of roofers and contractors who died because of one mistake. I would have impressed upon him that there are others who count on him to be around. I presume he knew that.


Maybe he would of given me all kinds of excuses why he doesn't need fall protection like "I been doing this for years and I know what I am doing". Maybe he would have given me a hard time and said fall protection is too expensive to do because homeowners won't pay for it. Maybe he would have told me to go pound sand out of frustration that someone is showing him that he should use OSHA Fall Protection safety measures.

That would be ok with me because I understand where contractors are coming from. In spite of the resistance I would focus on my passion and training goal which is to teach contractors how to work safe everyday to prevent injuries and deaths and save lives.

Today I wish I had the opportunity to train him. But now that opportunity is gone forever. 

                     Death is final.                                                      rest in peace

Somehow I feel we as an industry failed him.

When I use real examples of tragic accidents in fall protection training classes I see the bulbs going off in contractors eyes. Some tell me the training has made them think about working safer. Some tell me they will change the way they approach their jobs. Most admit during the class that they had a few 2 second heart attacks (near misses) and the training safety message is a good wake up call.

And then there are contractors who say "OSHA and Government stinks. I don't need anyone telling me how I should work."

Why do contractors with years of experience take the chance of working unprotected while working on elevated surfaces? Mr. McNally was 61 years old and had many years experience roofing and siding homes. Surely he must have known the dangers inherent in his work. I wonder what he thought about fall protection practices. Maybe he felt he was all set because of his years of experience. Is it possible he had a medical issue that lead to his fall? Whatever the circumstances, it is likely a properly set anchor point/lifeline/harness set up would have saved his life.

I wonder if his son who found him crushed on the ground will now consider using simple and effective fall protection equipment to protect himself so he will be around for his wife and children. 

The cold hard fact is we will never know what went through the mind of this beloved man a few minutes before his untimely death. His tragedy will now be a statistic of another contractor who fell from a roof and died. OSHA will increase it's resolve to enforce fall protection. This death and others like it are totally preventable.

I am a little emotional in this post because it is so sad that I (from Massachusetts) and our industry did not reach Mr. McNally in time. I believe we need to work harder to prevent the senseless carnage of injuries and deaths caused by falls in residential construction.

Please remember to slow down for a moment before you go up there and assess your hazards, equipment and tasks. Please train your people to recognize hazards and teach them how to work safe and observe them doing so.

One slip or one fall can cost all.

Please commit to safety and make sure you and your workers go home uninjured and alive to your loved ones at the end of each workday.

Tags: fall death