An OSHA Regional Administrator asked me to share information about recent falls through skylights and let people know they need to follow the OSHA Fall Protection standards when working on roofs. If you do not know what you are responsible for you need to train your people and yourself before exposure to fall hazards. Contractors are reporting that they are having there jobs shut down if they do not have fall protection even on flat roofs.
Also he asked me to let people know that no one under age 18 is allowed on roofs per child labor laws. One of the accidents was a 17 year old boy earning some extra money while on school break. He fell 30 feet and hit a coat rack piercing his abdomen causing colon and appendix damage. The coat rack saved his life. A fireman on the scene was quoted "look at the adjacent roofs where men are tied off." This boy was not properly trained or protected by his employer who is negligent for not training him and hiring an underage teen. OSHA is investigating.
Here we go again, serious and deadly accidents while removing snow from roofs. In New England there have been serious accidents to people removing snow and falling through skylights. One has died and several are injured, maybe for life. I suspect this will cause OSHA to intensify their inspections of contractors working on roofs. In order to protect your workers according to OSHA you MUST provide fall protection. If you do not and you are caught you can be cited and fined thousands of dollars.
In addition, we are again under a Local Emphasis Program for fall protection in New England. This means that OSHA CSHO's are under instruction from their management to focus their enforcement efforts on job sites. There is also a LEP on residential construction to inspect the inside of residential ob sites. With these LEP's, recent deaths and injuries, and a busy roof repair season about to start you will see aggressive scrutiny from OSHA.
Man in Canton, Ma. dies from fall through skylight.....
If the skylight was located in a Job Hazard Assessment and uncovered, a guard rail like this placed would have prevented a fall through the skylight.
The bottom line is employers must provide fall protection for all workers they hire for snow and ice removal and any other work where workers are exposed to fall hazards. If you are the General Contractor hiring a sub be sure to request proof of fall protection training and ask to see their certifications and written plan. The General Contractor can be held responsible if his sub do not work safe.
It is sad that so many people have been hurt or died in this tough winter. It looks like all of these accidents could have been prevented with a simple JOB Hazard Assessment prior to beginning work. OSHA requires employers have Safety Programs.
Please be careful and do not go on roofs or higher levels unless you have fall protection in place. Make sure your workers are tied off or have guard rails. Before you go on a flat roof go inside and look for the skylights and draw a map with measurement form below before going on the roof. Locate the skylights and cover them or install guard rails around them.