Workers, employees and independent contractors are often required to work on a roof or other high surface. When that occurs, the owner or entity in control of the roof must provide a reasonably safe working condition and advise of any known hazards. When the owner fails to do so, serious and often fatal injuries result.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards provide guidance on what precautions may be required to make the roof or other high surface a reasonably safe place to work. Specifically, 29 CFR § 1926.501(b)(4)(i) provides:
“Each employee on walking/working surfaces shall be protected from falling through holes (including skylights) more than six feet (1.8m) above lower levels, by personal fall arrest systems, covers, or guard rail systems erected around such holes.”
OSHA general standards like this apply to most workplace settings unless specifically excepted. These standards and others can provide support for a claim against the entity that controls the roof if they fail to take appropriate precautions and injuries result. Smith v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 306 Ga App 897, 902 (2010).
Falls through Skylights
Many warehouses are equipped with metal roofs that include fiberglass skylights designed to allow natural light inside. Roofs on some older warehouses have been painted in such a way that the skylight and the roof are the same color, making is nearly impossible to see where the metal roof ends and the skylight begins. Since fiberglass becomes brittle over time and cannot support the weight of a person, skylights present an extremely dangerous hazard, especially when they are hard to see. Absent appropriate covers, screens or appropriate fall arrest systems, a worker can easily step on a skylight and fall through without any warning. Unfortunately, serious, even fatal injuries often result. When this happens, the owner or entity that controls the roof could possibly be liable for damages.
The attorneys at Burnside Law Firm have evaluated and handled cases where individuals have fallen off a roof or through a skylight and suffered injury. Let us put that experience to work for you. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury as a result of a fall from a roof or through a skylight, contact the lawyers at Burnside Law Firm for a free consultation.