Workplace Fatalities Have Increased

An article posted on ISHN magazine’s website April 28 entitled “Workplace fatalities have increased” breaks the tragic news that despite the increase of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations in recent years, workplace fatalities are, in fact, on the rise.

Another interesting fact listed in the article is that falls, slips and trips, the leading cause of workplace death according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), increased 13 percent in 2014. With 7,402 violations of OSHA’s fall-protection standard in 2015, it is the most violated workplace rule in the U.S.

Although the article does not list the number of fatalities that occurred in the roofing industry, NRCA has seen a steady rise in roofing workers killed by falls. BLS findings show in 2012, there were 61 roofing workplace fatalities, 66 in 2013 and 69 in 2014.

This comes despite the fact that OSHA’s 2010 cancellation of STD 3.1, Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Compliance, was promised to make roofing workers safer.

NRCA’s paramount concern for worker safety in the roofing industry is fall prevention. The association has worked with several state agencies on fall-protection regulations that were developed, for the most part, in partnership with health and safety agencies, management and labor.

In recent years, despite data that proves these regulations are successful, OSHA has imposed regulations on some states that administer their own occupational safety and health agencies. In addition, added regulations such as the recently adopted rule for reducing worker exposure to crystalline silica threaten to even further increase falls in the roofing industry.

Fall protection is best served when consideration is given to three variables: building height, roof slope and roof membrane to be installed. Often, consideration is given to one of these factors – building height. However, if all three factors are taken into consideration, the perspective can change as to what fall-protection methods to employ in each roofing project. This also could help ensure roofing contractors stay in compliance with OSHA fall protection regulations.

NRCA is disturbed by the recent uptick in workplace fatalities in recent years. As OSHA continues to look at workplace safety without looking at the entire picture when developing workplace regulations, workable, effective regulations that will increase compliance and decrease fatalities will continue to elude the roofing industry as well as the entire construction industry.

The ISHN article can be read in its entirety below.

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