Roofer fall from height - 9 July 2019

Incident overview

A 22 year old male worker was undertaking re-roofing activities at a school auditorium in Hunters Hill when he fell approximately 8.5 metres through a penetration. The penetration had been covered with a sheet of black plastic and weighted down with sand bags, following the removal of a roof mounted air vent.

The worker was transported to Royal North Shore Hospital where he was treated for a dislocated hip, broken leg and broken elbow.

Image of the roof penetration the injured worker fell through.

Image of the roof penetration the injured worker fell through.

The investigation

  • SafeWork NSW inspectors responded to the incident.
  • SafeWork NSW commenced an investigation to determine the cause and circumstances of the incident.

Safety information

You should consider ‘reasonably practicable’ control measures to manage the risk of falls. Before starting work on an existing roof, carry out an inspection (from below). You should:

  • Determine the presence and condition of non-trafficable sheeting and other brittle roof sheeting such as sky lights, plastic roof sheeting or asbestos cement sheeting.
  • Determine the presence and condition of safety mesh.
  • When determining whether roof surfaces are safe to walk on, consider the product materials and method of fixing, including any possible deterioration in strength. (Note: products may become brittle and fixings may become less rigid over time.)

Implement these control measures to prevent workers from falling through roofs or skylights:

  • Plan the work to avoid accessing unsafe or non-trafficable areas.
  • Work from an elevated work platform or boom lift to avoid standing on the roof itself.
  • Install temporary work platforms and roof ladders where appropriate (eg crawling boards).
  • Install barriers (eg guard rails or covers) that are secured and labelled with warning signs.
  • Install safety mesh when installing the roof sheeting.
  • Install a fall restraint / arrest system (harness system) that has adequately-installed anchorage points, and train and instruct workers in its use.
  • Ensure workers are competent in using fall restraint / fall arrest systems and  are able to assess the need to adjust the length to limit slack as they move.

Apply these measures consistently and review them as work progresses.

Further information

You can also refer to the following guidance materials:

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