Two incidents involving falls from higher learning buildings serve as reminders that roofing contractors should take the proper precautions when working at heights.
In a story from the Daily News, campus police at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. reported that a construction worker fell from the side of the Teacher’s College on Aug. 23. According to university officials, the worker became entangled in a rope that was transporting equipment from the ground to the roof. Students who witnessed the fall say the worker fell from a second story building.
The worker was transported to Ball Memorial Hospital. As of publication, the victim’s condition was not known. The worker is an employee of Blackmore and Buckner Roofing Company, which was completing a roofing job on the building.
On the same day of the reported incident, Patch reported that the Fairfield Police Department in Connecticut closed an investigation into the fatal fall of a 57-year-old roofer in late May at Fairfield University. The department determined no charges will be filed.
The victim, Daniel Henderson, was working with other members of his family at the university’s Central Utilities Facilities building. While putting on a protective Tyvek suit, he stumbled and fell backwards through a skylight onto the concrete floor 40 feet below.
Henderson suffered fractures to his ribs, spine and pelvis, two collapsed lungs and hemorrhaging of the spinal cord, according to a police report. He went into cardiac arrest after arriving at the St. Vincent’s Medical Center and was eventually pronounced dead.
According to statements provided to the police, Henderson worked for Martin Construction, which had completed work for the university for roughly five years without any prior incidents.
This was the second fall through a skylight on this particular roof in the past several years, according to police, but the other one did not result in injuries.
The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 108 roofing contractors died as a result of a workplace injury in 2020, with 80 of them (74%) the result of a fall, slip or trip. The fatal work injury rate for roofers is 47 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers well above the average rate of 3.4 per 100,000 FTE workers.