Spring is widely recognized as “construction season,” as the warming weather brings a host of demolitions, new projects and repairs.
Our Birmingham construction accident lawyers want to make sure every worker, contractor and owner out there is doing all that is necessary to ensure safety at ever level.
There is a misconception that commercial job sites are somehow riskier than residential construction sites. It’s true that more workers and heavier equipment may present more opportunity for danger. But residential job sites pose their own unique risks. For example, fewer workers means less oversight and more opportunity to potentially overlook critical safety standards.
One of the most common residential construction projects that we’ll be seeing in the coming months are roofing repairs, so we want to take some time to specifically focus on how roofers can be safer on the job.
The Occupation Safety & Health Administration reports that roofers are at a safety disadvantage from the very beginning, solely based on the height from which they are working.
An additional risk is the fact that if they are on site to repair the roof, it means the existing roof is more likely to be of poor integrity. That can increase the risk of a fall, especially if the workers aren’t trained on how to use fall protection.
On job sites where workers will be expected to repair and patch roofs, contractors have a number of safety options, which include aerial lifts, scaffolding and a number of conventional fall prevention methods. The method chosen is going to depend on the type of building upon which one is working and the kind of repair initiated.
To begin, before anyone sets foot on that roof, employers have to figure out whether the roof’s structural integrity is intact. If it is not, an expert should be brought in to determine what precautions need to be made to ensure the safety of workers.
Workers that are conducting most of the repairs along the edge of the roof could use an aerial lift or scaffolding. Both, when used properly, create a stable platform for roofers to do their jobs.
Those working higher up on the roof could still use a scaffold, or they may choose a personal fall arrest system, which is the personal choice for many roofers. It’s essentially a full body harness attached to an anchor. It’s critical that all components of the device be installed and fitted correctly.
In the event that the employer is not planning to use scaffolds or ladders or aerial lifts and can show that it’s either not practical or would be a greater hazard to use a personal fall arrest system or some other fall protection equipment, that employer must develop a written, site-specific fall protection plan for any structures higher than six feet.
That plan has to meet the standards laid forth in 29 CFR 1926.502(k). It has to be developed by either the owner, the supervisor or a worker who has an extensive amount of knowledge, experience and training on such matters. That plan has to show why conventional methods won’t work and how they plan to address the safety of workers in their absence.
Reducing Falls During Residential Construction: Roof Repair, April 2013, OSHA
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