Are roofing safety regulations common sense or simply a pain in the you-know-what?
This is the continuous disagreement between many experienced contractors and safety parole officers. Does fall protection really save lives or does it cause more problems than it’s worth, including causing workers to fall?
Fall safety is a hotly debated issue. According to a WorkSafeBC spokesperson, “fall accident types are the most frequent and most costly across the construction sector representing 25% of all claim volumes and 44% of all claim costs. From 2006-2008, there were 7,461 fall claims and $243,883,752 in fully reserved claim costs.”The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, (CBC) asserts that many people die from heights of even 7 meters if they land on their head or back. It is estimated that homeowners represent 50% of roof falls and the remaining 50% occur among roofers. Since OSHA safety regulations were implemented, there has been a 60% decrease in falls during the past 30 years.
Roofing safety is dependent on workers’ awareness on the roof, their balance on different slopes, awareness of who and what is around them, and ability to multi-task. However, solely relying on acrobatic skills dangerously plays the odds of slipping. There are some factors that are out of control like falling through a rotten spot on the roof, tripping on a hose behind your foot or becoming imbalanced by misplaced footing.
“Let me ask you which is safer, doing a roof tearoff with ropes and hoses on the roof or falling to the ground because you have zero fall protection? One slip or trip and you’re gone! I don’t care how long you have been working on roofs without fall protection. It is just a matter of time before you become a statistic.” – OSHA officer
An OSHA officer on www.roofing.com shared a personal story he experienced with a 29 year old foreman with 10 years experience falling 32 feet to his death because he became complacent about his need for fall safety. His fall protection harness was in the job box on the roof but he never put it on. He left behind a young wife and child. If you take safety seriously, then you are going to do your work safely whether or not there are rules.
Fall protection laws are like seat belt regulations. When the seat belt law was first implemented, many people forgot to buckle up because it was not natural. Now it is second nature to put on your seat belt when you get into the car. The same is true for fall protection and safety equipment – at first it is not comfortable to wear this extra gear. The argument from contractors is that this equipment slows them down or actually causes more danger for being in their way. This may be true in the beginning until you use it again and again.
Another major concern about safety equipment is: A. cost; and B. time=cost. “Figure another $150 per job for wear and tear. It takes 10-15% more time,” according to one roofing contractor on www.roofingtalk.com, a professional roofing contractors forum. However, consider the cost of a life. You may be able to run the roof like a marathon, but what if there is hidden roof damage that causes your fall. Additionally, you could be slapped with a roofing safety finecostingas much as $50,000.
The purpose of safety regulations is not to bully you, question your expertise or slap you with a big fine. It is to decrease the fatality statistic. “Falls in construction account for about 1/3 of all fatalities in construction work every year. Roofers and iron workers are the two industries that account for the majority of fatalities due to falls,” according to an officer for OSHA. This applies equally to the experienced and the inexperienced new roofer.
Fall protection equipment saves lives. Today there are so many options to choose from that will compliment size, comfort and working habits. Try on a few to see what feels best. Whether it is safety gear or another worker, it takes time to adjust to new equipment and surroundings.
“At Roofers World, we are committed to roofers’ safety when developing new products for the market. This year we are releasing a new fall protection product with a 2 in 1 harness and ladder tie off. Homeowners and contractors alike can now quickly install a temporary fall arrest device anywhere on the roof.
Roofers World also equips you with the tools you will need to get the job done quickly and efficiently. Check out our extensive line of roof brackets for level staging, merciless tear off tools (including the Red Ripper and new Little Red Ripper), magnetic hammers and hatchets, magnetic sweepers, and more at www.roofersworld.com.