Solar Panel Installer Falls Through A Skylight

January 25, 2019 in Cal/OSHA, Falls, OSHA, Personal Protection Equipment, Safety, Skylight

Fontana, CA – An investigation of an industrial accident took place on June 14, 2016 concerning an employee who on June 13, 2016 sustained serious injuries after falling to the ground through an unguarded skylight while engaged in solar panel installation. The employee was not protected by use of guardrails, personal fall protection system, cover, screens, nets or any other methods

Cal/OSHA issued five citations to an electric contractor after a 29-year-old solar panel installer fell 29 feet through a skylight, suffering extremely serious injuries. The citations included a willful serious violation of Section 3212 Floor Openings, Floor Holes, Skylights and Roofs which requires employers use fall protections systems to keep employees safe. In this case, the employer did not provide the protection even though the company charged the building owner for it. There was no evidence of fall protection such as guardrails, personal fall protection system, covers, screens, nets or any other methods anywhere in the building, despite the presence of more than 140 skylights on the roof.

All employers in the State of California who are cited by Cal/OSHA are entitled to an appeal of the citations.

We have extensive experience in the investigation and analysis, including court testimony, concerning falls through skylights.

Cal/Osha Cites Contractor for Fatal Trench Collapse at Residential Construction Site

December 25, 2018 in Cal/OSHA, Collapse, Falls, Hazard, Injury, Safety

Often the general public and some professionals consider trench accidents to only happen on commercial projects. On December 11, 2018 the State of California Department of Industrial Relations published a News Release No.: 2018-100  that concerned a trench accident at a residential project.

Santa Ana—Cal/OSHA has cited a Riverside construction company $66,000 for serious workplace safety violations that resulted in the death of a worker when a 17-foot-deep trench he was in collapsed. Cal/OSHA determined that the construction company did not properly classify the soil and failed to correctly slope the excavation.

On May 9, two Services workers were installing sewer pipes at a Lake Forest residential construction site when a 30-foot-wide section of the trench’s sidewall sloughed and collapsed. Only one of the workers was able to escape.

Cal/OSHA’s investigation found that the company failed to ensure the site was inspected by someone who was deemed competent by the employer and familiar with trench hazards, soil classification and the appropriate safety requirements. The soil at the worksite was unstable, requiring an adequate protective system.

“Because working in excavations is so dangerous, a competent person must conduct thorough visual and manual tests to properly classify the soil and adequately protect employees from cave-ins,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Failing to carry out these requirements can be fatal.”

Injury By Glass and Building Codes Yesterday and Today

December 8, 2018 in Falls, Glass, Glass and Gazing, Injury, OSHA

            From time to time we have been called upon to investigate personal injuries due to glass breakage.  These types of accidents can vary from minor to major injuries including fatalities.

            There are various causes for such incidents including people walking into and through glass walls and doors, shattering of glass due to direct strikes by blunt objects, defective glass, failure of glass systems such as shower doors falling off their tracks, and sometimes plain old bad luck.

            Regardless of the cause there are two distinct differences between the incidents, those that involve untempered glass and those that involve tempered glass.

            Without going too deeply into the technical aspects of glass manufacturing the differences between tempered and untempered glass are stark and significant.

            When untempered glass breaks it does so in chunks typically referred to as shards.  Often the shards are broken into triangle shapes resembling knifes. Depending on the cause of the glass breakage the shards can impel, cut, or both any part of a soft tissue, human or animal.

            Tempered glass when broken is designed to shatter into very small pieces of glass. They too can cause injury but are less likely to become life threatening.

            There are circumstances when even tempered glass becomes dangerous.  One such occasion is when glass panes become dislodged from their frames in low and high rise buildings. The glass becomes airborne and transforms into a flying missile. Obviously in such a case it makes no difference whether the glass is tempered or not.

           As of the 1961 Uniform Building Code untempered glass was in wide and legal use. Starting with the 1964 Uniform Building Code we see where mandatory use of tempted glass [and other safety glazing] first becomes law under Section 5406 as follows:

 Glass lights subject to impact hazards and in the following locations shall  comply with Table No. 54-D:

 1. Glass doors and wall panels of bathtub and shower enclosures. For Plastics, see Section 1711 (e).

2. Where bottom of glass light is within eighteen inches (18”) of floor or walking surface.

3. Glass lights of glass panel doors.

            By the time this article was written in December of 2018, the codes and regulations governing the installation of glass become more strict. Under the 2015 International Building Code, which is the cornerstone of most building codes in the United States, Sections 2406.4, 2407, 2408, and 2409 require safety glazing, with minimal exceptions, in all hazardous locations including doors, windows, glass guard railings, wet surfaces, areas adjacent to stairways and ramps, fire department access panels, glazing in athletic facilities, and glazing in walkways, elevator hoist ways, and elevator cars.

            We do not anticipate any reductions in the current building codes and may see even more stringent requirements if future environmental and safety concerns dictate the need to provide even more protection.

            The author has investigated scores of incidents relating to glazing injuries and has qualified in court to testify as an expert in this field.

Stair Treads and Risers – What Does The Code Say

November 25, 2018 in Falls, Slips Trips and Falls, Stairs, Trips and Falls

Section 1009.3.1 of the International Building Code states that:

Stair treads and risers shall be of uniform size and shape. The tolerance between the largest and smallest riser or between the largest and smallest tread shall not exceed 0.375 inch (9.5 mm) [translated 3/8”] in any flight of stairs.


  1. Nonuniform riser dimensions of aisle stairs complying with Section 1024.11.2.
  2. Consistently shaped winders, complying with Section 1009.8, differing from rectangular treads in the same stairway flight.

Where the bottom or top riser adjoins a sloping public way, walkway or driveway having an established grade and serving as a landing, the bottom or top riser is permitted to be reduced along the slope to less than 4 inches (102 mm) in height with the variation in height of the bottom or top riser not to exceed one unit vertical in 12 units horizontal (8-percent slope) of stairway width.

The above building and accessibility code is consistent with the current California Building Code Section 1009.7.4

We are building and accessibility code experts who have deposition and court experience testifying on a variety of building code issues.


August 22, 2017 in BOT 3000E, Coefficient of Friction, Falls, Slips, Slips Trips and Falls, Trips and Falls

By: Gidon R. Vardi, Ph.D

According to an article published by CNA Financial Corporation titled “Risk Control Bulletin: Tribometry – A Scientific Approach to Reducing Slip-and-Fall Hazards”, (2016) “over 8 million people are sent to hospital emergency rooms as the result of slip-and-fall accidents (”. Considering the significance of such statistics the governing agencies who are responsible for safety in general and floor safety, specifically, need to address this issue with immediate seriousness.

Currently, not a single jurisdictional building code, OSHA regulation, or any other recognized national governmental agency has issued or endorsed a published standard test method (STM) in conjunction with acceptance threshold values.  Moreover, these organizations seem to have turned a blind eye toward our overseas allies who are light years ahead of us in slip and fall prevention. Unless we can agree on how slip and fall risk is measured, we cannot properly assign preventive or corrective actions.

Most building codes today have a generic language that requires a floor to be “slip resistant”.  This is not enough. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep the majority of humans are constantly traversing some kind of flooring.  From plain dirt to super glossy custom nanoglass, floors are the most widely exposed surfaces that we see, feel, and are exposed to. Yet mandatory building and maintenance codes are silent as to the ever-present danger an unsafe floor covering poses.

For decades various voluntary standards by such domestic organizations as ASTM, ANSI, NFSI, and various international organizations have published their findings and proposed safety limitations. Recently ANSI A326.3 standard was published for measuring the Dynamic Coefficient of Friction.  In fact, this is the only currently recognized published standard in the United States. Regardless of the tireless research that created this standard, it is voluntary.  There is no actual mandatory value for recognizing what is considered to be a slip resistant floor.

In addition to the lack of a mandatory standard, the current status of testing methods are also not regulated. None of the popular tribometers currently being used in the United States including the English XL (based on ASTM F-1679 which expired) and the Brungraber Mark II (based on the ASTM F-1677 which expired) have any published  United States floor safety standards on which their results can be relied upon. The only known tribometer currently manufactured and supported in the United States that can be relied upon to meet the new requirements of the ANSI A326.3 standards is the BOT-3000E, which is a non-proprietary instrument.

DIN 51130

It is time for the International Building Code to take the lead in publishing a mandatory standard for floor safety based upon the requirements of ANSI A326.3.  It is time that we have a law by which all floor safety experts, building owners, maintenance companies, and the courts can rely upon for evaluating how to install and maintain the most used surface we rely upon. This national code needs to be clear not only in what safe values floors must meet but also how to test for those values with the use of field-use tribometric equipment, of which the results are known to be reliable and repeatable, and can correlate to a high degree with well-established laboratory instruments such as the DIN 51130 standard ramp.

Pacific Injury & Safety Experts is dedicated to the cause of making a national floor safety value and test method published in order to eliminate confusion in the floor safety industry.