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Solar Company Owner Dies After Falling Through Skylight

A solar company owner was working alone on a roof of a warehouse when he fell 40 feet through an unguarded skylight to the concrete floor below. The victim was setting up a drone on the roof to photograph work progress. He was unconscious after the fall and died on the same day at the hospital. The skylight did not have any protective coverings, screens, or guard rails at the time of the incident. The victim was not wearing personal fall protection. The CA/FACE investigator determined that, in order to prevent similar future incidents, solar companies should:

  • Ensure that employees performing work within six feet of a skylight use skylight screens,covers, guardrails, nets, or personal fall protection systems—even for short-duration tasks such as periodic inspections or maintenance.

On December 29, 2017, at approximately 12:00 p.m., a 59-year-old male solar company owner died when he fell approximately 40 feet through a skylight while working on the roof of a warehouse. The CA/FACE program received notification of the incident from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) on January 3, 2018. On February 22, 2018, the CA/FACE investigator conducted a telephone interview with the company’s executive vice president. On March 1, 2018, the CA/FACE investigator visited the incident site, interviewed the workers and the managers at both the skylight company and the warehouse, and took photographs of the incident scene. The ambulance report was also obtained from the county coroner’s office.

A link to the full case report can be found by clicking here.

Employer/Victim Information

The victim in this incident was the owner of a California-licensed and insured solar power and skylight installation company, started in 1994. There were 15 workers employed by the company, and 10 were onsite when the incident occurred. Interviews conducted with the executive vice president and a supervisor indicated that the victim was one of the pioneers of the solar industry in California, was very knowledgeable about safety regulations and protective measures, and was very safety conscious.

Written Safety Programs and Training

The company had all the requisite Cal/OSHA programs, including an Illness and Injury Prevention Program (IIPP) and a Fall Prevention Program. It also had a written company safety policy which stated that workers should not work on the roof alone, and if on the roof for short duration such as for periodic inspections, should not be within ten feet of a skylight. The victim and other managers provided on-the-job safety training to the company employees.

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