Oregon FACE Toolbox Talk Guide- Young Worker Dies After Falling Through Skylight

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Oregon FACE Program

Summary Statement

OREGON FACE developed this toolbox talk about a 19-year-old who died falling through a skylight when he was helping his self-employed father repair the roof of a warehouse. This toolbox is to provide construction workers with a guide on how to prevent falls from heights.
December 2015

INSTRUCTIONS: Hold the guide with this side facing you and the above picture facing your crew. Then read the story.

Pictogram of a worker holding an energized wire

Passive fall protection on skylights

Our safety talk today is about a 19-year-old who died after falling through a skylight. He was helping his self-employed father repair the roof of a warehouse. The roof had about a dozen skylights and a 5-foot parapet wall around the edges. His father was contracted to repair the roof, and had assessed the hazard risk noting that the skylights were a remote hazard. The victim was walking backwards to roll up a torch hose when he either tripped or stepped through the skylight. He fell 35 feet to the ground below and died of severe head trauma.

So here are some ways we can prevent something like this from happening where we work.

  • Make sure to identify and guard known and potential safety hazards to everyone on site.
  • Make sure that buildings with plastic domed skylights have fall prevention (i.e., steel grills) to reduce the fall risk. Some skylights are flushed with the roof and difficult to detect. Check to make sure that you identify and guard all skylights.

ASK: "Does anyone have more ideas or comments to share?" Pause for discussion. Then see if there are ways to take action.

END WITH ACTION PLAN (ideas for what to ask or say).

  • “Are there any elevated working or walking surfaces where there are floor openings without guards that someone can fall through?”
  • “Does anyone have ideas for what we can do to identify open floors and guard them?”
  • “When you ask someone to work on the roof with skylights, what would you discuss with them?”
  • Express your commitment to participate in inspections to identify work surface fall hazards.
  • Commit to follow-up at the next safety talk.

Oregon Outreach FACE