Tag Archives: roofing hazards

Rotten Roof Injures Roofer in Fall Incident

Roofer Falls 20 Feet through Rotten Roof

SUMMARY

A 39-year-old roofer was severely injured when he fell 20 feet through a rotten roof. He had 22 years of experience in the roofing industry and had been with his employer, a roofing contractor, for a year.

The injured roofer was a member of a four-person crew that had been tearing-off and replacing the flat (low pitch) roof of a manufacturing storage facility for a month. On the day of the incident, they were working to remove three layers of roofing materials to check for spots of rotten roof.

Warning lines were set up near the roof’s edges and a safety monitor was used. Workers were not required to use personal fall protection while inside the warning lines. Outside of the warning lines, they were required to use a personal fall arrest system consisting of a full body harness with ropes tied-off to anchor points. Most of the visible rotten roof was in the area outside of the warning lines.

The roofer was inside the warning lines near the roof ridge using a shovel to scrape off shingles and insulation. As he stepped backward, a patch of rotten roof gave way and he fell through, landing 20 feet below on wood flooring. He was severely injured and suffered numerous fractures and internal injuries.

Investigators found that a worker had previously placed an orange cone to mark a rotten spot near where the roofer broke through the roof. The spot he fell through was three feet away from the cone and under three layers of roofing material so he was not able to recognize it was rotten. Workers had also been walking across the roof in the area for several weeks. At the time of the incident, the safety monitor was on the other side of the roof ridge throwing debris into a truck below. After the incident, the employer required workers to use a personal fall arrest system at all times.

RECOMMENDATIONS

FACE investigators concluded that, to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should:
• Erect guardrails around rotten roof areas to prevent access.
• Place a cover of standard strength and construction over localized rotten roof areas. (A sheet of
plywood would have covered the rotted deck area in this case.)
• Use scaffolds and/or elevating work platforms to access the underside of a roof to remove rotted deck when site conditions allow their use.

REQUIREMENTS

• Employers must ensure that all surfaces on which employees will be working or walking on are structurally sound and will support them safely prior to allowing employees to work or walking on them. See WAC 296-155-24605(1)
• Ensure that the appropriate fall protection system is provided, installed, and implemented when employees are exposed to fall hazards of 10 feet or more to the ground or lower level while engaging in roofing work on a low-pitched roof. See WAC 296-155-24611(1)(a)
• Prior to permitting employees to start demolition operations, you must make an engineering survey, by a competent person, of the structure to determine structural integrity and possibility of unplanned collapse of any portion of the structure. See WAC 296-155-775(1)

MORE INFORMATION

Read the full FACE Construction Injury Narrative report for this incident. For a slideshow version, intended for educational purposes, click here.

This narrative is an alert about the serious traumatic injury of a worker and is based on preliminary data ONLY and does not represent final determinations regarding the nature of the incident or the cause of the injury. Developed by the WA State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), WA State Dept. of Labor & Industries. The FACE Program is supported in part by a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH grant# 5U60OH008487). For more information visit the FACE website.

Read prior posts about roofing accidents:
WHY DO ROOFERS FALL FROM ROOFS? IS IT JUST BECAUSE OF GRAVITY?
MUKILTEO, WA COMPANY FINED $645,000+ FOR EXPOSING ROOFERS TO FALL HAZARDS

Why Do Roofers Fall From Roofs? Is it just because of gravity?

Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Gelman from Jon Gelman, LLC – Attorney at Law.

This is a timely post as I just received notice that the Department of Labor and Industries investigated a fraud case against an employer in Lake Stevens, WA that did not cover his employees for workers’ compensation. This was not the first time the Department had contact with this employer for this same issue, either. This time, charges were filed and the employer was sentenced to sixty days in jail, converted to house arrest.

Roofers, of all workers, need their workers’ compensation coverage!

Today I received an urgent call from attorney representing a client in New Jersey who fell from a roof. Before she told me the job description of the injured worker, now in a coma, I correctly anticipated that it was probably a roofer who had fallen from a roof, yet again.

This scenario has played out in workers’ compensation claims for decades. How the accident happened is usually an argument with the employer. The employer claims that the employee was either intoxicated or not following safety precautions. My instinct always tell me that this is probably incorrect, since roofers tend to lose their balance and fall for many other reasons, including “gravity.”  Some reason a deprivation of oxygen and/or exposure to toxic neurological irritants contained in the roofing materials, and weather related events that make roofs slippery.

Continue reading Why Do Roofers Fall From Roofs? Is it just because of gravity?