Engineering Students Build Roof Prototype to Support Fall-Injury Prevention Research

On September 28, the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) and Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering (CAEE) joined forces to assist in the effort to prevent fatalities and injuries caused by falls from roofs in residential construction. About 30 engineering students from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and ISE built an outdoor roof prototype to study and test safety harnesses used in the construction industry.

The project was guided by Dr. Tonya Smith-Jackson, chair of the department of industrial and systems engineering and Dr.Taher Abu-Ledbeh in the civil engineering department. The idea to involve ASCE was first presented by Dr. Sameer Hamoush, chair of civil, architectural and environmental engineering. The test model presented the opportunity for students to engage in hands-on learning while mastering job safety and skills training.

Dr. Daniel Hindman principal investigator and associate professor in the Sustainable Biomaterials department at Virginia Tech, designed the roof model. Hindman and Smith-Jackson have worked on the joint project since 2009. Virginia Tech will conduct a second test of an indoor roof model while A&T will conduct the first test of its prototype in an outdoor environment.

Students in the department of industrial, systems and engineering and biomedical began conducting fall-injury prevention research in the summer of 2013. The project funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), will provide recommendations to enhance the usability of safety harnesses and best work practices.

This research will also contribute to efforts by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and NIOSH in the Falls Prevention Campaign, which launched in 2012. Each year, construction site falls claim the lives of hundreds of workers.  The most common types of construction accidents include falls from cranes, ladders and scaffolds. Many of the deaths and injuries that result from these falls can be prevented. Workers should use safety equipment such as harnesses, guard rails, lines, and safer ladders.

To learn more about the campaign, call 800-321-OSHA or visit For more information about the ISE roof construction project, contact Dr. Tonya Smith-Jackson at The prototype is located at 2105 Yanceyville Street in Greensboro.