Skylights are highly desirable in both residential and commercial construction due to their energy savings and addition of natural sun light, but they are incredibly dangerous to anyone in their vicinity. Skylights must be properly safeguarded or marked, so they are readily visible to anyone on a roof. Otherwise, they pose a danger of significant injury or death to workers and home and business owners who are exposed to them.
According to the most recent report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80 workers were injured in falls through skylights in 1999 and an additional 100 were injured in falls through other roof openings. In 2001, 34 workers lost their lives due to falls through skylights and roof openings. The numbers do not reflect all of the people who suffered severe, life altering injuries by falling through a skylight. Importantly, there are several simple measures employers and property owners can take to protect their vendors, visitors, and maintenance personnel and reduce the risk of a potentially deadly fall.
Because so many workers are injured on the job by falling through skylights, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has analyzed and studied the problem. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has enacted various regulations governing the protection of workers from skylights and other roof openings, including:
–Curbs, railings, and/or screens must be utilized to protect workers from falling through skylights, and all such guarding must be installed before roofing work begins and remain in place until construction is completed, pursuant to 29 CFR 1910.23 and 1926.500.
–29 CFR 1926.28(a) requires the utilization of various fall protection measures to prevent falls.
–If guardrails or safety belts/harnesses are not practical, employers must provide alternative forms of protection against falls such as fixed covers, catch platforms, or safety nets as described in 29 CFR 1926.105.
NIOSH also recommends that employers should provide adequate training to workers in order for them to recognize the serious dangers posed by falls through roof openings, and the danger of sitting or stepping on skylights. Manufacturers should post warning stickers on skylights warning individuals against sitting or stepping on skylights.
The difference between a safe or deadly work environment depends on the implementation of these few simple recommendations, but many property owners and employers do not recognize the danger. As a result, thousands of innocent people have been killed and injured by falling through unguarded and camouflaged skylights. Warner & Warner has represented numerous clients who been severely injured by falling through skylights that were camouflaged and inadequately protected. We have filed and resolved numerous lawsuits seeking to hold property owners and contractors liable for their failures to make the properties safe for our clients who were lawfully on the roof performing work near skylights.
Preventing falls through skylights is an issue about which we are very passionate. We have worked with the best experts in the field to prove that our clients should have been warned and protected from the danger inherent in skylights. We would be honored to help you prosecute your skylight fall claim. If you believe our knowledge, experience, and skill can assist you, contact Warner & Warner.
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