Category Archives: Roofing Safety

NRCA and United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Join to Support National Safety Stand-Down, May 8-12

This is a joint statement attributable to: Reid Ribble, CEO of the National Roofing Contractors Association, and Kinsey M. Robinson, international president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers

safetystanddownThe United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers (UURWAW) and the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) are pleased to continue their annual support for the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, organized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), taking place throughout the U.S., May 8-12, 2017.

The National Safety Stand-Down is an effort to focus company and worker attention on the significance of fall hazards in construction and emphasize the importance of effectively implementing fall-protection systems on every project.

The latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show 69 workers in the roofing industry died in 2015 from falls that occurred as they were doing their jobs. Those numbers reflect 69 families that have been changed forever by the loss of a loved one.

NRCA and UURWAW encourage their members and all involved in the roofing industry to participate in the National Safety Stand-Down by delivering focused fall-protection awareness toolbox talks at the start of each day during that week and throughout the year.

NRCA is offering its Toolbox Talks regarding personal fall-arrest systems, skylight and roof openings, warning-line systems and ladder safety for free; they can be found at www.nrca.net/TBT2017.

In addition, NRCA will host a webinar about roofing fall protection Monday, May 8 and a Live Chat on NRCA’s Facebook page to discuss trending roofing and construction safety topics Wednesday, May 10.

UURWAW is offering special materials about fall protection at www.unionroofers.com.

NRCA and UURWAW urge the roofing industry to pledge to continue to save lives by increasing awareness of fall hazards so all workers are safe performing their critical work and are able to go home to their families at the end of each day.

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.

NRCA Responds OSHA’s Release of its Final Rule Governing Workplace Exposure to Crystalline Silica

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This statement is attributable to: William Good, CEO, National Roofing Contractors Association

Based on our initial review, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) has serious concerns regarding OSHA’s new silica regulation.  First and foremost, we are concerned the final regulation significantly will increase fall hazards for roofing workers by requiring contractors to implement engineering controls that are not suited to work performed on sloped roofs. We are also concerned the rule will add significant new compliance costs for contactors that OSHA continues to seriously underestimate. Although we continue to have serious concerns, we appreciate OSHA made modest improvements in the final rule in response to concerns we articulated in testimony on the regulation as originally proposed.

NRCA submitted detailed comments to OSHA in response to the initial proposed regulation released in 2013 and also testified at a hearing on the proposal in April 2014. Additionally, NRCA representatives met with officials in the Office of Management Budget in February 2016 to reiterate these concerns as the final silica regulation underwent its final review.

When it becomes effective for the construction industry in June of 2017, OSHA’s final silica regulation will dramatically reduce the permissible exposure level (PEL) for silica in construction workplaces to 50 micrograms per cubic meter (from the current 250) and will establish an action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter.  To meet these much lower levels, new engineering controls will become necessary to ensure compliance. With respect to roofing work, this likely will require workers who face even minimal amounts of exposure to silica dust to use wet cutting methods and dust masks.

NRCA is most concerned the new requirements will increase the risk of falls for roofing workers. Under the new rule, workers in many cases will have to use wet saws on the rooftop, introducing new hazards such as slipping on wet surfaces and tripping on hoses. We call on OSHA to work cooperatively with us to identify implementation strategies that protect workers from the new fall hazards created by the rule.

Despite some improvements in the final rule, NRCA continues to be concerned compliance with the regulation may not always be technologically feasible and will cause much uncertainty for employers. For example, some commercial laboratories have indicated they are not capable of measuring workplace silica levels with accuracy or consistency at such low levels.

NRCA leadership and staff will continue reviewing the 1,772-page final rule issued March 25 to determine and analyze the potential effects on the roofing industry and will provide further information and guidance for members in the future.

New Federal Budget Allows Higher Maximum OSHA Penalties

Silica PictureThe budget bill signed into law Nov. 2 by President Obama directs federal agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to increase agency civil penalties in accord with inflation. This will allow OSHA to increase its maximum civil penalties for the first time since 1990. The law allows OSHA to make a one-time “catch-up” increase of up to 82 percent to compensate for more than two decades of no increases.

Under the Bipartisan Budget Act, OSHA civil penalties may be increased significantly by the agency as has been called for many times by OSHA Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels and many congressional Democrats.

After the one-time catch-up increase is implemented, OSHA will annually increase maximum penalties by the amount of the federal government’s Consumer Price Index (CPI). According to one preliminary analysis, the current maximum penalty for serious fines could increase from $7,000 to $12,744 and maximum fines for willful or repeat penalties could increase from $70,000 to $127,438.

The additional increased funding taken in by the federal government because of increases in OSHA civil penalties will not go to OSHA’s budget but into the general treasury to pay for all government operations.

Before maximum fines increase, the law states the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) must issue guidance by Jan. 31, 2016, regarding implementing the bill’s provisions. Additionally, OSHA must publish an interim final rule by July 1, 2016, allowing the adjustment to take effect by Aug. 1, 2016.

OSHA also can choose a number lower than 82% if, following a public comment period, the agency determines that increasing the penalty by the full amount allowed will have a “negative economic impact” or the “social costs” of boosting the penalty outweigh the benefits. If OSHA selects an increase lower than the CPI, the OMB director would have to agree with OSHA’s determination for the lower boost to be approved.

NRCA plans to request a reduced increase during the public comment period, which has yet to be scheduled.

National Roofing Contractors Association Updates NRCA Pocket Guide to Safety

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NRCA has updated its NRCA Pocket Guide to Safety to include the most current Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements and safe work-place practices for roofing professionals.

The guide is a 125-page, pocket-sized, spiral-bound guide recommended for use by laborers, mechanics, foremen and other on-site workers.

NRCA Pocket Guide to Safety addresses the OSHA requirements related to:

  • Fall protection
  • Electrical hazards
  • Heat illnesses
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Fire prevention

A Spanish version is also available.

For more information, visit http://www.nrca.net/store/detail/nrca-pocket-guide-to-safety/1408.

NRCA Releases Updated Toolbox Talks!

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NRCA has updated its NRCA Toolbox Talks publication to include the latest developments in safety training for roofing workers.

NRCA Toolbox Talks is designed specifically to enable foremen and trainers to review important safety lessons with their crews on a weekly basis. Each lesson is structured for various presentation styles and includes safety-training tips and key points to stimulate questions and discussion.

Hands-on training conducted regularly is the most effective way for roofing contractors to reinforce worker safety, comply with OSHA regulations and improve profitability.

Topics in NRCA Toolbox Talks include equipment safety, fall protection, OSHA requirements, hazard communication, hot asphalt safety and personal protective equipment.

For more information, visit http://www.nrca.net/store/detail/nrca-toolbox-talks/1388.

NRCA Works Diligently to Prevent Falls in the Roofing Industry

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An article in the April 13 issue of the Chicago Sun Times states a local roofing company recently was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failing to provide its workers with fall protection on a jobsite.

Fall protection in the roofing industry is critical, and fatality statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics highlight the significance. In 2013, 80 workers employed by roofing contractors died from work-related causes—66 of those deaths were the result of falls.

NRCA has partnered with OSHA in an effort to educate the roofing industry on the importance of fall protection for roofing workers and works diligently to reduce falls in the roofing industry.

OSHA regulations are clear about the requirement that roofing workers be protected by some form of fall protection when they are working at heights of 6 feet or more above the ground, or a lower level.

Options for fall protection include safety nets, guardrails or personal fall-arrest (PFA) equipment. In addition, when performing roofing work as defined by OSHA, workers may be protected by a warning- line system to allow workers to work inside the lines without additional fall protection. However, they must be protected by guardrails, safety nets, PFAs or a safety monitor when they work outside of these warning lines.

With the support of an OSHA grant, NRCA delivers free, day-long fall-protection training for workers throughout the U.S. The class focuses on fall hazards and controls workers must employ to minimize or eliminate the risk of injury or death.

Go to www.nrca.net to learn more about this class and other resources NRCA provides to reduce falls in the roofing industry.

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