When Skylights are Deadly

Floor holes can be found inside buildings, on rooftops, and outdoors. "Floor Holes" aren't always just holes in the floor that someone might accidentally step into. Floor Holes, like unguarded skylights, can be deadly and this is one area where many workers forget to take the necessary safety measure to protect themselves and their co-workers, or at minimum throw some caution tape up around the hole and think that is enough.

Not convinced? Here are two incidents that should give everyone a wake up call.

OSHA Standard 1926.500(b) defines a hole as a gap or a void 2 inches (5.1 cm) or more in its least dimension, in a floor, roof, or other walking/working surface.

Examples of floor holes, besides the obvious 'hole in the floor' are:

  • Roof drains
  • Concrete penetrations for piping and ducts
  • Unfinished stairways
  • Pier drilled holes
  • Excavations, and
  • Skylights

n the NIOSH report below, a laborer died after falling through an unguarded skylight. Emergency personnel responded within 5 minutes but the injuries were too severe and the young man did not survive the fall.

 To read the full investigation report, click the summary above.

To read the full investigation report, click the summary above.

NIOSH investigators concluded that, in order to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should:

  • Conduct a site inspection prior to beginning roofing work to identify all potential fall hazards present, and take appropriate steps to ensure that identified hazards are eliminated or controlled prior to the commencement of work activities.
     
  • Develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive written safety program for all workers which includes training in hazard recognition, including but not limited to fall hazards, and the avoidance of unsafe conditions.
     
  • Building owners should consider installing permanent railings around skylight perimeters or protective covers over individual skylights to guard against falls through skylights by maintenance or other personnel who must access the roof.
OSHA Standard 1926.501(b)(4) states that Each employee on walking/working surfaces shall be protected from falling through holes...and from tripping in or stepping into or through holes (including skylights)...

Never assume everyone will see the hole and step around it, or think that caution tape is enough. A slip or trip near the hole can result in a serious injury or worse. Proper covers, guardrails and signage must be utilized on and near floor hole hazards.

CAPublicHealth has put together a sobering video that explains events that led to a roofing supervisor's death after he fell 30 feet through a warehouse roof skylight. Photographs from the fatality investigation are supplemented with scenes recreated by co-workers that were there that day. This is a true story, told by the workers who were there the day Joe fell to his death. Joe has worked for the same roofing company for 25 years.

The video is less than 6 minutes long. Roofing and construction companies are encouraged to include this video as part of their comprehensive safety training program, or at least show this video during a short toolbox talk if possible. Even veteran employees need to participate in weekly safety meetings.

 Properly protected skylight.

Properly protected skylight.

 Temporary guardrail installation around this skylight.

Temporary guardrail installation around this skylight.

All companies should have AND USE a written safety program for all workers. If your company does not yet have a written safety manual or could use some help to ensure the one you have is OSHA compliant, please click the button below to take advantage of this offer from Weeklysafety.com.

You will not find a better deal on an OSHA Safety Manual anywhere else. If you want to pay $129 or $199 or $249 for a safety manual that is probably not as good as this one, go ahead. But if you are smart and need a written safety program that you can get immediately, customize for your company quickly and you don't want to spend a few hundred dollars, then order your safety manual from Weeklysafety.com today before we wise up and discontinue this offer.

Extension Cords

Extension Cords

Floor Holes

Floor Holes

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