Following the National Safety Month posts, I am amazed to find out how many roofing contractors are not familiar with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Fall Protection Guidelines and Hazardous Communication requirements. Not only are they unaware of the guidelines, but they also have no idea of the possible fines that can be levied on them and what those fines could do to their business.
OSHA is responsible for the investigation of workplace safety. Contractors can visit the OSHA website www.osha.gov, where they can better understand regulatory requirements. In addition, every contractor should have a copy of the 29 CFR 1926 OSHA Construction Industry Guidelines. All the information needed to be compliant can be found in this useful publication.
Residential construction is not part of Duro-Last®’s daily routine; however it may be for a lot of our readers. On December 22, 2010, OSHA officially cancelled its “interim enforcement policy” on fall protection and issued an “instruction” that eliminates the use of Slide Guards as a fall protection option for most residential roofing projects. The new OSHA instruction was effective December 16, 2010, with an enforcement date of June 16, 2011. The instruction will now require conventional fall protection (safety nets, guardrails or personal fall arrest systems) to be used on roofs with slopes greater than 4-in-12 and where the height from one level to another is greater than six feet. There are some exceptions to this instruction (which should be verified with OSHA first).
As a reminder, we should always be aware of our surroundings when on a roof and be mindful of the possible hazards. Falling from even as low as six feet can cause serious injury. By making sure ladders are tied off, identifying problem openings in the roof surface, etc. we will reduce the likelihood of a fall and provide a safe work environment.