According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the roofing industry records about 50 deaths per 100,000 workers annually, making it one of the most dangerous jobs in the construction industry. Falls remain the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in the roofing industry. To protect roofers from occupational hazards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed safety guidelines for employers in the industry to follow. Additionally, OSHA requires employers in this industry to develop safety policies and standards for their employees.
With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the common occupational hazards associated with roofing, as well as possible mitigation measures to protect roofers and reduce high-cost accidents.
High Exposure Roofing Risks
As mentioned earlier, falls are the greatest hazard in roofing, and they cause massive injuries every year. Other roofing risks include, among others:
• Burns from heating equipment
• Electric shocks
• Cuts from sharp edges of cutting tools and roofing tiles
• Direct exposure to harmful UV rays
• Diseases such as common cold, heatstroke, and frostbite from extreme weather
• Musculoskeletal injuries from bad posture
As an employer, such risks can cost you a lot of money in the form of claims, lawsuits, medical expenses, and even death benefits. With this in mind, you must adhere to the OSHA guidelines to keep your workplace safe.
Risk Management and Fall Protection
When working at heights, you can protect yourself by:
• Wearing the right footwear– The right shoes for roofing have qualities such as good traction, stability, flexibility, and durability. Such shoes minimize your chances of falling, thus enhancing your safety. Even so, know when to replace your shoes as wearing worn-out footwear is just as bad as putting on the wrong shoes for the job.
• Using a personal fall arrest system– This equipment provides support to the roofer through a full-body harness connected to a stable pole using lifelines. It also has ropes and guard rails that promote a flexible yet safe working experience for roofers.
• Keeping the roof clear– This protects you from tripping or slipping on debris and other objects, and so, make sure to keep your working area clear.
• Working in conducive weather –Other than the common weather hazards such as heatstroke, working in some weather conditions can increase the risk of falls. For instance, if you work on a wet roof, chances are high that you will slide and fall.
For effective risk management, consistently monitor the potential roofing risks in your business and develop appropriate measures to curb them. For instance, while wearing the right shoes may protect roofers from falling, it will not shield them from harmful UV radiation. So it’s important to come up with different solutions for various problems to ensure all-round protection of your workers.
The Cost of Not Being Well Protected
Failure to adhere to the OSHA safety requirements may lead to the following consequences:
• Severe injuries
• Permanent disabilities
• Death of the worker(s) involved
• Lawsuits evoked by the injured worker
• Workers’ Compensation claims
• Incurred expenses such as medical and funeral costs
• Bad reputation for a business
• Loss of business license
• Jail term
OSHA requires employers of roofers to develop workplace safety standards to protect employees. These standards also protect businesses as they help to minimize the risk of high-cost accidents. At PMC, we provide customized Workers’ Compensation solutions for the construction and roofing industry. For more information contact us today at (781) 449-7744 or [email protected].