Roofing professionals must contend with an assortment of hazards on the jobsite. One of the most dangerous hazards a roofer can face is a lightning strike. While rare, these strikes can be lethal, especially for roofers working in the open and at an elevation. Recently, lightning struck a Florida roof, resulting in the death of a roofer and potential legal ramifications for the roofing company that employed her. Below, we will discuss what roofing contractors can learn from this accident. Contact a roofing lawyer in Florida for assistance with keeping your workplace hazard-free.
A Fluke Storm
On July 30, lightning struck the roof of a two-story building in Wellington, FL. In total, six workers were injured by the lightning strike. Romelia Ramirez, 20, took a “direct hit” from the strike, which caused her to fall from the roof. She died of her injuries two weeks later. Another worker received treatment for a head injury sustained while on a ladder. No one else was seriously injured.
An official stated that the strike resulted from “a fluke storm that developed rapidly without prior warning.” There’s little reason to doubt this assessment. Hazardous weather conditions, lightning in particular, can be unpredictable. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from rainfall.
When Clouds Form
What happened to these workers was a tragedy, and it would be a shame for roofers to not apply these lessons to their worksites. You can take a proactive approach by training your workers on lightning safety and by monitoring radio, television, and weather reports for incoming storms. You should also have a written Emergency Action Plan as required by OSHA.
Above all else, you must get your workers to an enclosed shelter when you see any sign of a storm. Remember, as an employer, it is your duty to provide your workforce with a work environment “which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm” like lightning. Will you be ready when clouds form on the horizon?
A Roofing Contractor’s Responsibility
OSHA is currently investigating the accident. If found negligent, the roofing company involved could receive crippling fines. To ensure that you are doing everything in your power to protect your workers and avoid an OSHA investigation, it is in your best interest to consult a roofing attorney in Florida. A roofing lawyer can advise how you can best implement OSHA regulations to protect your workforce from lightning strikes like the one that caused the death of Romelia Ramirez.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.