Worker Falls Through Skylight; Expert Says Codes Were Violated

    skylightPlaintiff was working on rooftop equipment at a beverage facility when he fell through a skylight. The roof had recently been remodeled and hundreds of skylights were added. He sued the property manager, the general contractor, the project manager and the roofing subcontractor for negligence.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • What regulations applied to the skylight standards? Were they violated?

    Expert Witness Response

    Based on my education, background and training, extensive experience analyzing similar cases, and my review of documents, I am of the opinion that all skylights installed on a roof that will be subject to the presence of workers, such as the plaintiff, must be of equal strength as the overall structure of the roof, including a minimum 300 lb. live load requirement by OSHA and building codes. To the extent that a skylight system (frame, lens, etc.) does not meet the necessary strength requirements, that skylight poses the same potential risks and hazards as an open hole, and therefore must be protected through the use of proper guardrails, screens, or cages. Where the subject skylight was unable to support the necessary minimum load requirements, and in failing to provide either a load-bearing screen or guardrails for each of the subject skylights, the subject roof and skylights were an unreasonably dangerous condition, which was the direct cause of plaintiff’s fall and resulting injuries.

    The expert is a mechanical engineer with more than 14 years of experience working in safety engineering and forensic engineering. He has investigated more than 1,000 cases.

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