Security Bars Provide Fall Protection

Placing a fall protection device, like security bars, and leaving it for rooftop security will save contractors man-hours and liability.

Placing a fall protection device, like security bars, and leaving it for rooftop security will save contractors man-hours and liability.

Fall protection for roofers is an important topic in the roofing industry. California Code of Regulations oversees fall protection codes and has ruled on a groundbreaking issue. Security Bars have been approved for Title 8, Section 3212 Fall Protection Codes.

Rooftop safety and security products and practices are essential for a safe work environment. Roofing Contractors spend a lot of time ensuring they comply with codes and standards. Title 8, Section 3212 states:

  • “Every floor and roof opening shall be guarded by a cover, a guardrail, or equivalent on all open sides. While the cover is not in place, the openings shall be constantly attended by someone or shall be protected by guardrails. Toe-boards shall be installed around the edges at opening where persons may pass below the opening.”

SKYCO Skylights led the push by manufacturers to update the standards so their customers could save time and money with a universal, code compliant product.

Some exceptions apply but for the most part an opening on a roof needs to have fall protections. Properly covering each hole can be time consuming for contractors. Placing a fall protection device, like security bars, and leaving it for rooftop security will save contractors man-hours and liability and give building owners and occupants the security they need.

Most building owners require security bars for their building, it can lower insurance costs and liabilities, so installing a security bar that doubles as fall protection is a practical concept. For a 500k square foot warehouse you can have upwards of 400 skylight openings.

Not all security bars are approved for Title 8, Section 3212. They need to withstand an impact test of 400 pounds minimum, no opening can be larger than 12 inches horizontally, the lip cannot be higher than 1 inch, and in the case of broken skylight glazing no impalement hazard for worker who has fallen through.

SKYCO Skylights’ team is knowledgeable in rooftop safety topics and codes but it is best practice to speak directly with a code official. For the entire detailed requirements and regulations contact SKYCO Skylights or go to the California Department of Industrial Relations website

Fixed Railing System Provides Fall Protection Around Roof Hatches

The BILCO Co. has introduced its BIL-Guard 2.0, which, like its predecessor, is a fixed railing system that provides a permanent means of fall protection around roof-hatch openings.

The BILCO Co. has introduced its BIL-Guard 2.0, which, like its predecessor, is a fixed railing system that provides a permanent means of fall protection around roof-hatch openings.

The BILCO Co. has introduced its BIL-Guard 2.0, which, like its predecessor, is a fixed railing system that provides a permanent means of fall protection around roof-hatch openings. The new model boasts aluminum construction for increased strength and rigidity, a redesigned self-closing hinge and positive latching system, and stainless-steel hardware throughout. The product is available in mill-finish aluminum and with a safety-yellow powder-coat paint finish. Compliant with OSHA fall-protection standards, the BIL-Guard 2.0 features a mounting system that does not penetrate the roof membrane.

NRCA Addresses OSHA’s Final Rule Governing Workplace Exposure to Crystalline Silica

William A. Good, CAE, vice president of NRCA, states: “Based on our initial review, 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 contractors 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 and 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.”

NRCA and United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Jointly Support National Safety Stand-Down, May 2-6

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

“On behalf of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers (UURWAW) and National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), we are pleased to continue our 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. from May 2-6, 2016.

“The latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show 69 workers in the roofing industry died in 2014 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—a spouse, father, mother, son or daughter whose death has left a void in the hearts of family and friends.

“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. 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’s Toolbox Talks regarding personal fall-arrest systems, skylight and roof openings, warning-line systems and ladder safety can be found by clicking here. In addition, NRCA and OSHA will co-host a webinar about roofing fall protection Monday, May 2.

Special materials developed by UURWAW about fall protection can be accessed online, as well.

“Let’s pledge to continue the efforts to increase awareness of fall hazards, not just that week but throughout the year so all workers are safe performing the critical, quality work they do and are able to go home to their families each day!”

Keep Job Sites Safe with Hard Hat Tethers and Lanyard Systems

Hammerhead Industries introduces its  line of hard hat tethers and lanyard systems.

Hammerhead Industries introduces its line of hard hat tethers and lanyard systems.

Dropped from aloft, a hard hat is a 1-pound unguided missile that endangers the entire work site. It’s an accident that can be virtually eliminated with Hammerhead Industries’ line of hard hat tethers and lanyard systems.

In the unfortunate event of a fall, a fall-arrest harness protects the worker, but as his hard hat continues its descent, a fall-arrest harness won’t protect the worksite. Designed for use with all fall-protection harness systems, the RT5-5601 and RT5-5602 Hard Hat Retractable Tethering Systems are weight-tested to safely secure all commonly used industrial hard hats. The main difference is how each attaches to the worker.

The RT5-5601 is easily attached with Velcro strap loops and cinches around the fall protection harness strap, ring or tri-bar while the RT5-5602 employs a threaded stud that securely attaches to a garment with structure such as coveralls or vest. The RT5-5601 and RTS-5602 use a sturdy, industrial-grade spectra/nylon line that extends up to 14 inches. For additional safety, they both feature a gentle 2.5-ounce retraction force that takes up any unused slack to avoid entanglement by keeping the lanyard close to the body.

When workers are ready to call it a day, Gear Keeper’s patented Quick Connect System allows the hard hat to be easily disconnected without completely removing the lanyard’s base. The third product in the Gear Keeper Hard Hat line is the cost-effective standard Hard Hat lanyard TL1-5001. The 20-inch loop mount uses a spring clip that attaches to a garment with structure, such as coveralls or vest.

Best New Products Named at IRE

Judges of the recent 2016 International Roofing Expo’s Product Showcase chose three winners out of a selection of 21 new products that were displayed in a 1,500-square-foot pavilion on the show floor.

D.I. Roof Seamers was awarded “Best New Product” for its Curver, a panel radius bender for snap-lock metal roof panels.

Capturing second place was Standing Seam Roof Anchor for its universal-fit fall-protection anchor for standing-seam roofs.

Third place was awarded to Tie Down Engineering for its Penetrator Mobile Fall Protection Cart, a lightweight, fully portable mobile fall-protection device.

“It is a huge honor to be recognized by your industry colleagues; our heartfelt congratulations go out to the three winners,” says Tracy Garcia, CEM, IRE show director. “We were very impressed by the creative and innovative level of the winning products.”’

OSHA vs. State Rules: Residential Fall Protection

The Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration has demanded some states that administer their own occupational safety and health agencies and enforce state-specific workplace rules adopt federal provisions related to residential fall protection. California, Kentucky, Oregon and Washington are four such states with provisions for residential fall protection that differ from federal OSHA’s. One of the federal requirements is that fall protection is required in roofing work at heights of 6 feet or greater. OSHA has singled out this requirement as one that the states must meet or OSHA will take over enforcement of all construction workplace rules.

Government statistics indicate state plan states that use a risk-based approach, where roof height is one of many factors considered when developing regulations, generally experience lower worker death and injury rates than comparable federal states.

The recent release of initial workplace fatality numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, for 2014 has again brought the issue to the forefront and prompted the following Jan. 29, 2016, response from NRCA CEO William A. Good to Dean McKenzie, OSHA’s acting director of construction.

Dear Mr. McKenzie:

We are, of course, incredibly disappointed that you choose to carry on with your plan to impose federal rules, developed over the objections of the roofing industry, on states that have had considerable success with their own fall protection regulations. Those regulations have been developed, for the most part, with the ac- tive involvement of health and safety agencies, management and labor in the affected states. What’s more, in most of the states you cite as being deficient in meeting the federal “effectiveness” standard, the rate of accidents and fatalities from falls in construction is consistently better than it is in comparable states under federal OSHA’s jurisdiction.

And what’s even more incredible is that since federal OSHA unilaterally changed the rules for residential fall protection, the number of fatal falls has actually increased. OSHA’s promise that the cancellation of STD 3.1 in 2010 would make roofing workers safer has delivered the opposite result with 61 roofing workers killed by falls in 2012, 66 in 2013 and 69 in 2014. And yet OSHA marches on, unaffected by the facts.

How you can consistently ignore the data and instead rely on a vague definition of “effectiveness” is frankly beyond me, and makes absolutely no sense. It seems to me that an effective safety standard is one that actually works to protect workers from falls, rather than one that meets certain regulatory language.

In your letter you cite “standards that permit, for example, certain work to be performed at heights of 15 to 20 feet without positive fall protection.” As we have argued previously, the height of the roof is not the only issue that needs to be considered for effective fall protection. Rather, job-specific fall-protection assessment should take into account the type of building, the slope of the roof and the type of roofing materials being installed. This strikes me as being remarkably similar to the approach to safety Dr. Michaels, among others, has long advocated, but this approach is missing from OSHA’s heavy-handed efforts to impose federal rules on states.

In addition, if height were indeed the only issue, then perhaps you can explain why certain scaffolding operations are allowed up to 10 feet without fall protection, and why certain steel erection activities are allowed up to 30 feet without fall protection. And perhaps you can also explain why, over the period from 2010 to 2013, Texas had an average fatal construction fatality rate of 11.63, while California’s was 5.95.

The tragedy, of course, is that this isn’t just an academic conversation. Lives are at stake, and more are being lost in those states OSHA is responsible for than in those that have developed workable and, yes, effective, regulations.

I understand you choose not to meet with us to discuss this further. While I’m not surprised, I am left to wonder what is reasonably to be done to make roofing jobs safer. OSHA’s approach has made things worse, and you seem intent on just doing more of the same.

Sincerely,
William A. Good, CAE
Chief Executive Officer
National Roofing Contractors Association

Safety Railing System Provides Fall Protection around Roof Hatch Openings

The BILCO Co. has introduced the BIL-Guard 2.0, the second generation of its safety railing system.

The BILCO Co. has introduced the BIL-Guard 2.0, the second generation of its safety railing system.

The BILCO Co. has introduced the BIL-Guard 2.0, the second generation of its safety railing system. The BIL-Guard 2.0, like its predecessor, is a fixed railing system that provides a permanent means of fall protection around roof hatch openings. The new and improved model will be available this summer and boasts aluminum construction for increased strength and rigidity, a redesigned self-closing hinge and positive latching system, and stainless steel hardware throughout. The product is available in mill finish aluminum and with a safety yellow powder-coat paint finish.

Also compliant with OSHA fall protection standards (29 CFR 1910.23), the BIL-Guard 2.0 features an innovative mounting system that does not penetrate the roofing membrane. The new system is easy to install and does not require special training or certification for proper installation. The design features quick-mount curb brackets for a fast, secure attachment and pivoting mounting sleeves with compression fittings to lock the railing system into place. The BIL-Guard 2.0 is also equipped with a standard self-closing gate to maintain continuous fall protection to ensure that OSHA compliance is preserved.

BlueWater to Showcase Solar-powered Warning Light at IRE

A provider of modular guardrail systems and passive fall protection systems, BlueWater Manufacturing Inc., a Safety Products Group company, will be exhibiting at the 2016 International Roofing Expo (IRE), taking place Feb. 17-19, 2016, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

The International Roofing Expo is an annual trade show and educational conference where all segments of the roofing construction and maintenance industry come together for three days of face-to-face interaction, product review, education and networking.

BlueWater will be one of 1,100 booths exhibiting products, services and equipment for the roofing industry, including gutters, coatings/adhesives, built up, fasteners, machinery, metal, modified bitumen, roof pavers, renewable energy, walkways/ballast, shingles, slate, solar, spray polyurethane foam, tile, ventilation, waterproofing and more.

BlueWater will showcase its LumiGuard Solar-Powered Warning Light at IRE for the first time and promises to be an innovative and easy-to-install roofing safety product. The LumiGuard is a solar-powered warning light that can be easily installed onto current rooftop railings, gates, hatches, skylights and surrounding mechanicals.

“Our team is excited to offer this new and innovative product to the marketplace. LumiGuard adds a new dimension to roof safety during nighttime hours that just hasn’t existed until now,” says BlueWater’s vice president of Operations, Greg Kenton. “LumiGuard is easy to use and install for the end-user, and we’re proud to unveil it at IRE.”

For more information about BlueWater Manufacturing Inc. visit the company at booth No. 2407 at the 2016 International Roofing Expo, Feb. 17-19, 2016, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

A Roofer’s Guide to Safely Navigating the OSHA Employee Interview Process

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.

OSHA is asking questions. Are your employees ready to answer? When OSHA visits your next job site they will undoubtedly engage in what is known as the “Employee Interview” stage of the inspection. This is the part of the OSHA inspection where the compliance officer has the right to take your employees aside and interview them regarding company safety and health policies. The inspector will attempt to question your employees on everything from fall-protection equipment, company-training practices and site-specific hazards. If your employees are prepared for these interviews and remember they have certain fundamental rights the OSHA inspector may not violate, your company has a much better chance of avoiding costly OSHA citations.

What Will OSHA Ask My Employees?

The OSHA inspector will without hesitation ask your employee if they have been trained on fall protection. The inspector will ask very specific questions regarding how the employee was trained, who performed the training and how often this training occurred. Employees need to be prepared to answer these questions, and company training policies should allow the employees to tell the inspector they are frequently trained by the company’s safety director or a third-party safety consultant. The employee should also be able to tell the inspector that he or she was trained once upon hire and retraining occurs at least once a year. Additionally, the employee will need to advise the inspector about any videos or lectures they are required to attend to complete the company’s training program. It will further support your defense if the employee notifies the inspector about any weekly toolbox talks or routine safety meetings they are made to attend at specific jobs.

All roofers should also be able to recite OSHA’s fall-protection standard. This has become a major source of citations in recent months and is easily preventable if employees are prepared for the OSHA interview. The employees must report to the OSHA inspector they are fully aware of OSHA’s regulation requiring the use of fall protection at heights of 6 feet or more above a lower level. It is not necessary for employees to identify the exact provision within the Code of Federal Regulations, but they must be able to tell the inspector they are trained to recall that regulations exist that require all employees working on a surface with unprotected sides and edges at 6 feet or more above a lower level be protected from falling by the use of a fall-protection system. The magic words required to support your company’s defense against this type of citation are 6 feet. The employee must tell the inspector they always wear fall protection when working at a height of 6 feet or more.

Another favorite interview tactic of the OSHA inspector is to question an employee on the dangers of a fall. Often times this question is so alarmingly simple roofers have trouble giving OSHA the correct answer. If OSHA asks employees if they are aware of what happens if someone falls from a roof, the best possible answer will always be to inform the inspector they have been trained to recognize death or serious injury can occur from a fall. If an employee makes the mistake of reporting to the inspector that falls are not always dangerous or that roofers can some-times survive a fall, there is a strong chance the company will be cited for an inability to properly train employee on the hazards associated with a fall.

OSHA inspectors also prefer to ask employees if all falls are preventable. Most roofers would immediately reply that falls are preventable but construction is a dangerous and high-risk profession. This is not the answer your employees should provide to OSHA. The administration wants to know your employees are trained to recognize the fact that all falls are preventable. An employee should never tell OSHA that injuries are an unpreventable reality on a construction site. If OSHA inspectors ask your employees if falls are preventable, the answer should always be to inform the inspector that all falls are 100 percent preventable.

Must My Employees Speak to the Inspector?

OSHA has what is referred to as administrative probable cause. This gives OSHA the legal right to enter your job site and begin an inspection. OSHA’s powers essentially allow the administration to conduct inspections at almost any active place of employment. However, these powers do not give OSHA inspectors the right to detain or hold anyone for questioning against their will. The employees’ participation in the OSHA inspection process is completely voluntary. An employee may, under their own free will, choose to speak to the inspector, or the employee may choose not to speak to the inspector. It is very important to remember that an employer must never instruct, order or command an employee not to speak with OSHA inspectors when they arrive onsite. However, the employer has the right to educate his or her employees that no one is required to speak with OSHA if they elect not to.

How Long Can the Inspector Speak to My Employees?

If your employees voluntarily choose to speak to the inspector, the interviews must be completed within a reasonable amount of time. The Occupational Safety and Health Act states the interviews are to be completed in a reasonable manner. Additionally, OSHA’s Field Operations Manual conditions that interviews are to be as brief as possible. With such open time limitations, there have been varying arguments by OSHA and employers as to exactly how long an OSHA inspector may speak with an employee. It is traditionally accepted OSHA may take no longer than five to 10 minutes for field interviews with company employees. This amount of time can be less or more, depending on the type of investigation, knowledge of the employee, or if the inspection involves any injuries or fatalities. It is highly recommended the employees know their rights before speaking with the inspector. These rights include the employee’s ability to stop the interview at any time if he or she feels uncomfortable or believes the interview has gone on too long.

Can Our Company Attorney Be Present?

In almost all investigations, non-supervisory employees must speak to the inspector without the assistance of counsel. Supervisors, crew leaders and foremen are all entitled to an attorney during their interview because of the supervisory nature of their position. Administrative case law has held that any employee who has been granted authority over other employees is considered a supervisor. This authority has been defined as any time an employee is granted the ability to control the method and manner in which he or she performs assigned tasks. Employees who are not given supervisory responsibility and who do not have the ability to control the method and manner of the assigned work may speak to the inspector in private. However, always recall the interview process is entirely voluntary and the employee may request a company representative attend the interview with them. This is very important and is often overlooked by companies during OSHA inspections. If the employee specifically and voluntarily requests the interview take place with a supervisor or attorney present, the OSHA inspector must submit to the employee’s wishes.

How Should an Employee Handle Questions Regarding Training?

Company safety policies and training programs should be comprehensive and effective at all times. These training sessions, retraining classes and field safety exercises should result in a roofing crew that can recognize all hazards relating to our industry. The employees should be trained on each and every safety protocol to prevent against these hazards. If company training programs address all these issues, the employee will have no problem informing OSHA he or she has been trained on all relevant safety regulations. An employer is almost guaranteed an automatic citation if an employee simply concedes to an inspector that he or she has never received training in an area of roofing safety.

Inspectors will ask employees very complicated and confusing questions on a job site. This has been a major factor in recent citations and has resulted in significant penalties against roofers across the nation. For example, inspectors will often use technical or scientific language in an attempt to confuse a roofing employee to the point where the roofer acknowledges he or she has never heard of such terms. This sort of behavior from OSHA inspectors should not be tolerated if your employees are properly educated and prepared for OSHA interviews. An employee should not be coerced into telling an inspector they have not been trained or do not recognize a specific safety hazard. Instead, the employee should inform the inspector the company’s training program includes all hazards a roofer could face on a job, and if the employee is ever unsure of how to handle a specific safety issue, he or she need only refer to the company safety manual, which is always on the job site in every company vehicle.

When OSHA arrives at your next project, remember the roofing contractor who has properly prepared his or her employees for OSHA interviews will prevail. Today’s contractors must consistently defend their companies against OSHA and the federal government’s increasing involvement in the construction industry. However, a well-educated crew who has been informed of their rights with regard to the OSHA interview process can make all the difference when defending your company against an OSHA citation.