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Roofers face a high risk of deadly falls

For workers in the roofing industry, each day on the job comes with risks and difficulties. Roofers face exhausting work over long hours under the hot sun. On top of the demanding physical labor and harsh weather conditions, there's also one constant danger that outstrips all others: falls.

Managing the dangers

It's unavoidable that roof work involves heights. Steep pitches are another common hazard. Recognizing these risks, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) establishes detailed safety requirements for workers and their supervisors. Employers must ensure that their workers are well-trained on how to stay safe on the job. They must also provide safety measures such as:

  • Personal fall protection systems involving an anchor, harness and lifeline
  • Rescue plans for keeping workers safe when falls do occur
  • Guardrails and warning lines
  • Well-marked covers for skylights and other holes
  • Safety mechanisms for ladders, scaffolding and platforms
  • Barricades, toe boards, hard hats and other protections from falling objects

Not all employers prioritize worker safety

Unfortunately, not all employers provide a safe work environment for their employees. A roofing company in Massachusetts recently got into trouble for exposing workers to significant fall dangers. The workers were repairing a steep church roof 45 feet off the ground without adequate fall protection. Even after OSHA inspectors notified the site supervisor of the hazards, the company didn't take any steps to correct the problems. It continued to jeopardize employees' lives by ignoring the warnings.

Luckily, no one was hurt, but the danger is very real. Falls account for roughly one-third of construction deaths. In the roofing industry, that number is even higher - 75 percent. As a result of this significant fall risk, roofers are three times more likely to be killed on the job than other construction workers. And the risk is highest among small roofing companies and immigrant workers.

These statistics are an important reminder that safety is everyone's responsibility - and that no paycheck is worth putting your life on the line.

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