According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), many roofing contractors aren't taking the necessary safety precautions when working on top of roofs. Complaints against roofing contractors for unsafe practices are more common than they used to be and OSHA, along with the Better Business Bureau and various roofing associations is working to correct the problem.
Just how dangerous is roofing?
Nearly a third of all fall related deaths in the construction industry occur from the rooftop. Contrary to popular belief, this isn't usually due to inexperience (though it is sometimes the case). Even the most experienced roofers can fall when the work environment is unsafe. Uneven sheathing, a sudden gust of wind, loose roofing materials, tools lying about, and wet surfaces all commonly lead to falls resulting in serious injury or death. Even a bee sting or some other on-the-job injury can distract a roofer causing them to fail. Many of these work place hazards, such as leaving tools where a person might stumble on them, are the result of human error. Others, such as sudden gusts of wind, are completely outside the worker's control. However, with the proper safety measures in place, even these types of hazards are less likely to result in a fall.
What this means for roofers
According to OSHA, while the cost of providing the property safety equipment to all roofers could be a setback to roofing contractors, that cost is nothing compared to the worth of a human life. OSHA urges that roofing contractors make sure to train all of their workers in the use of safety equipment and to make sure that equipment is being used every second that they are working on a roof. Also make sure that each roofer has proper footwear that will protect them from slipping and from injury that could lead to a fall.
What this means for homeowners
Homeowners also need to be concerned about the danger of a roofer falling while on-the-job. First off, they need to make sure that any roofing contractor they hire has the necessary insurance to cover such injuries. Otherwise, the homeowner could be liable for an injury. Even with insurance, however, no homeowner wants to feel responsible that a serious injury or death occurred from his/her rooftop. It's important when hiring a contractor to ask about safety measures. Homeowners shouldn't be afraid to ask about what safety equipment and what safety measures will be used on the job. As the saying goes, it's better to be safe than sorry.
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