Safety and OSHA News

Window washer falls 11 stories and survives: Cal/OSHA issues fines

A window cleaning company faces citations and fines in connection with an incident in which a window washer fell 11 stories from the roof of a building and survived. 

On Nov. 21, 2014, Pedro Perez, an employee of Century Window Cleaning, was working on the roof of the Sterling Bank & Trust building in San Francisco. Perez was moving the extension cord of a suspended scaffold around the corner of the building. As he moved toward the edge of the roof, he disconnected the lanyard of his fall protection equipment from an anchor point. He then lost his balance and tumbled over the edge.

Perez fell onto a moving car in the city’s busy financial district. Had the car not been passing by, Perez would have fallen onto pavement. He suffered a broken arm and injuries to his left side.

The back window of the car shattered. Cal/OSHA says the driver of the car was also injured.

Cal/OSHA issued $12,765 in fines and five violations (two serious, three general) to Century, including:

  • failure to secure the roof with fall protection equipment, and
  • inadequate training on the proper use of personal fall protection equipment.

In 2008, Cal/OSHA cited Century $2,720 for four violations, one of which was serious, following a complaint.

According to 2013 statistics on California workplace fatalities published by the U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics, 22 or 61 fatalities in the construction industry were due to slips, trips and falls.

“While it is miraculous that this man survived a fall from this height, his fall is an essential reminder that employers are required to provide protections from the hazards of high elevation work,” said California Department of Industrial Relations Director Christine Baker.

You might not think that a car is a particularly soft surface to land on after an 11-story fall. However, the fact that the car crumpled under Perez was key.

Asphalt, on the other hand, doesn’t crumple as easily.

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