Personal fall protection systems are one of the best ways for roofers to protect workers who are exposed to great heights. And while the majority of your workers may be abiding by the rules set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a few may not be. All it takes is for an OSHA compliance officer to drive by and see a worker without fall protection for your company to be investigated and potentially fined.
In this article, we dispel some of the more popular myths surrounding fall protection. Hopefully, we can persuade roofing contractors to verify that their workforces always wear their fall protection equipment. It could mean the difference between project success and a grave injury on your watch.
Our roofing attorneys have heard it all. Personal protection equipment (PPE) is impractical. It’s uncomfortable. It gets in the way of work. This is not the case with modern safety harnesses. These safety harnesses can be customized to the wearer and fit workers of all sizes. They are flame-resistant, built for mobility, and ergonomically designed — a big plus in an industry plagued by musculoskeletal disorders. Many even come with pockets. Your workers can complain all day, but it doesn’t change the fact they have no excuse for not wearing their fall protection equipment when working at a height of six feet or higher.
According to OSHA, “falls are the leading cause of fatalities in construction, accounting for one-third of all fatalities in the industry.” Even they acknowledge that falls result from a variety of factors. Fall protection is meant to mitigate as many of these factors as possible. While your workers may see fall protection systems as ineffective, OSHA confirms that fatal falls are preventable. Were one of your workers to fall, a guardrail, safety net, or OSHA-approved fall arrest system could easily mean the difference between life and death.
There’s nothing wrong with being mindful of expenses. Many fall arrest harnesses can cost as much as $300. And a fall protection system complete with guardrails, safety nets, and OSHA-compliant fall protection anchor points could easily cost your company thousands of dollars. This may very well be a large expense for your company, but it doesn’t compare to the penalties that OSHA can administer to roofers who fail to abide by their regulations.
A serious violation could cost your company $13,260, while a repeat or willful violation could cost your company an incredible $132,598. And even after these crippling fines, your company would still have to pay the price to be compliant, proving that it’s better to be proactive than reactive.
Bottom line: you can’t put a price on your workers’ safety. For more information on how your company can put together an OSHA fall protection plan, consult one of our roofing attorneys from Cotney Construction Law.
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.