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Since the early 1980’s, there have been over 900 reported fall-through accidents and fatalities involving skylights in the United States. In response to this rising number, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established fall protection guidelines that aim to prevent workers in high-risk industries from suffering similar fates.

According to OSHA standards, every skylight with a drop of six feet or more needs to be guarded with screens/covers or railing/guardrail systems, both of which have their own set of safety regulations. For example, skylight screens need to be capable of holding 200 pounds and able to sustain a normal load impact without bending downwards or breaking the glass beneath it. Fixed railings need to have top rails, intermediate rails, and posts.

With the proper safety precautions in place, every single skylight fall is preventable. With that in mind, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also outlined safety precautions that different parties should take to minimize the inherent fall risk that comes with working near skylights:

Employers

  • Have a comprehensive, written fall prevention program that complies with OSHA standards
  • Inspect work sites for fall hazards before work begins
  • Require and provide fall prevention systems around skylights including covers or screens, railings or guardrails, and harnesses
  • Train employees to recognize and prevent fall hazards

Skylight Designers and Manufacturers

  • Evaluate, design, and strengthen components that provide a margin of safety
  • Attach visible signs to skylights to warn people of their presence
  • Implement additional warning signs at all entries (e.g., doors, stairs, ladders, or roof hatches) to areas containing skylights

Building Owners

  • Install permanent anchorage points for personal fall arrest systems (PFAS)
  • Maintain permanent railings or protective screens around skylights
  • Inspect roof to identify fall hazards
  • Alert workers of the presence of skylights

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Barnes Trial Group know how to fight on behalf of seriously injured or deceased clients and win. If you or someone you know has fallen through a skylight, reach out to Barnes Trial Group today at (813) 251-0777 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.

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