Hazard Communication for Roofers

To follow the OSHA Haz-Com standard, an employer must develop a written Hazard Communication plan.

To follow the OSHA Haz-Com standard, an employer must develop a written Hazard Communication plan.

According to Paracelsus, the 16th century physician and scientist: “Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy.”

If you wash your windows in your house or car once in a while, the glass cleaner is not subject to the Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Hazard Communication standard, which essentially ensures that information concerning the classified hazards of chemicals is transmitted. However, professional window washers use glass cleaners eight hours per day, five days a week, by the gallons and in stronger concentrations. For these people, OSHA’s Haz-Com standard comes into play and the window washer’s employer is expected to have a written Hazard Communication plan—a list of all hazardous chemicals onsite, Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and the proper container labeling.

In the roofing industry, synthetic roofing materials, asphalt roof shingles, adhesives and treated wood shingles all contain hazardous chemicals. In addition, items roofers use every day, like lubricants, hand-cleaning products, sealants, thinners, coatings, gasoline and diesel fuels, and even fire extinguishers, are subject to the HazCom standard.

In OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards, Haz-Com is almost always No. 2, second only to Fall Protection. Out of 398 inspections in the construction/roofing industry in 2015, OSHA issued 768 citations and collected $443,317 in fines for HazCom. Unfortunately, this number is so high because many companies, who otherwise have an excellent safety record, do not understand or completely disregard the Haz-Com standard.

If OSHA comes onto a company’s site to do an inspection for an accident, a complaint, or a visible infraction, an OSHA insprector may ask to see the Haz-Com plan and the SDSs. To follow the OSHA Haz-Com standard, an employer must develop a written Hazard Communication plan, determine what products onsite may be potentially hazardous, provide a list of all the hazardous or potentially hazardous substances onsite, and locate SDSs for all these products. These SDSs must be immediately available for all employees on the worksite during work hours.

These chemicals must also be properly identified and labeled. Here’s what you need to know:

Safety Data Sheets

SDSs are information sheets for one specific product and have 16 standardized sections. The employer is responsible for having the SDSs onsite.

Labeling

Container labels must be clearly visible, legible and in English. If employees speak a language other than English, that language can be on the labels and SDSs, as well. There are six elements to Haz-Com labeling:

  • The product identifier appears at the top of a container. This is usually the name or code number to the product.
  • Pictograms are a black picture on a white diamond background with a red outline.
  • Pictograms are designed to be easily identifiable to non-native readers. They also make labels more identifiable.
  • The labeling format also includes one of two signal words: “Warning” or “Danger”.
  • Beneath the signal words, there are Hazard Statements and Precautionary statements. The Hazard Statement tells users how the chemical can be a hazard. The precautionary statement tells users how to protect themselves from the chemical.
  • Usually, on the bottom of a label, contact information for the manufacturer, importer and supplier is included.

Training

Training is also important to maintain the Haz-Com standard. Employees must be trained on the types of hazardous materials onsite, the location of the hazardous chemicals onsite, the locations of the Haz-Com plan and the locations of SDSs onsite. Employees must also be trained how to read the labels and SDSs.

Learn More

To learn more about Haz-Com and the toxic substances in roofing, visit the following websites:

Photo: OSHA

NAHB Chairman Issues Statement on Legal Challenge to OSHA Rule

Ed Brady, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill., has issued the following statement on the legal challenge filed by NAHB and several other industry groups against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Department of Labor, regarding OSHA’s final rule called “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses:”
   
“NAHB and other industry groups have joined together to fight this rule. We have opposed this rule from the start, and cannot allow this type of regulatory overreach to occur.”
   
“Among the issues with the rule, there are concerns associated with OSHA’s requirement of employers to submit detailed injury and illness logs to the agency for public posting. Not only does OSHA not have the authority to do this, it also exposes a business to reputational harm, all without demonstrating any evidence that it would reduce workplace injuries and illnesses.
   
“We also have concerns about the anti-retaliation portion of the rule which would allow OSHA inspectors to cite an employer without needing a complaint from a worker–this is an overreach of authority as it goes against Congress’s mechanism to address retaliation that is specifically set forth in the OSHA statute.
   
“OSHA has not justified any of the rule’s requirements with any real benefits analysis and has relied on anecdotal information. This is insufficient and cannot be allowed to stand and potentially serve as a precedent for other agency rules. Workplace safety is of the utmost concern of our members, however this rule is unlawful and does not serve its intended purpose of improving workplace safety. The rule needs to be vacated and set aside in its entirety.”

OSHA Sets Rule for Affordable Care Act Whistleblower Complaints

The Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a final rule that establishes procedures and time frames for handling whistleblower complaints under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) . The rule protects employees from retaliation for receiving Marketplace financial assistance when purchasing health insurance through an Exchange. It also protects employees from retaliation for raising concerns regarding conduct they believe violates the consumer protections and health-insurance reforms found in Title I of the ACA.

The rule also establishes procedures and time frames for hearings before Department of Labor administrative law judges in ACA retaliation cases, review of those decisions by the Department of Labor Administrative Review Board and judicial review of final decisions.

“This rule reinforces OSHA’s commitment to protect workers who raise concerns about potential violations of the consumer protections established by the Affordable Care Act or who purchase health insurance through an Exchange,” says Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.

In 2013, OSHA published an interim final rule and requested public comments. The final rule responds to the comments and updates the rule to clarify the protections for workers who receive financial assistance when they purchase health insurance through an Exchange.

OSHA’s Affordable Care Act fact sheet provides more information regarding who is covered under the ACA’s whistleblower complaints protection, protected activity, types of retaliation and the process for filing a complaint. The fact sheet is available at Whistleblowers.gov/factsheets_page.html.

The High Roofer: Recognize Whether Drug Abuse Is Occurring in Your Workplace

Drug abuse in the workplace is a great threat to the health and safety of American
workers, and roofers are no exception. Roofers have the fifth-highest work-related death rate in construction—about twice the average for all construction (about 50 roofers are killed on the job each year, most by falls). According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the construction industry, including the roofing trade, has the second highest level of alcohol abuse and sixth highest level of drug abuse. (The survey is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.)

Signs and symptoms of drug abuse in the workplace are absenteeism, staff turnover, lower productivity, poor work quality and overall poor morale. These can lead to increased accidents and near misses, theft of equipment and materials, and equipment breakdowns.

In addition, behavioral issues commonly are associated with substance abuse. For example, addicted workers may exhibit a change in attitude or work performance, erratic performance, hangover symptoms and secretive behavior. Other signs include isolation, forgetfulness, indecision, erratic judgment, impulsive and temperamental behavior, changes in personal appearance and hygiene, jitters, hand tremors, hyper-excitability, carelessness, sleeping on the job, trouble with police, aggression and constant illnesses.

If your employees are using, some common sites for drug abuse while at work are lunchrooms and lounge areas, parking lots and cars, remote areas of a worksite, equipment and storage rooms, and restrooms.

Read on to learn about today’s common drugs and identify whether your employees have addictions to these drugs:

Marijuana

Marijuana, also known as weed, reefer, pot, etc., comes from the hemp plant (cannabis sativa). About 10 percent of roofing workers claim to use marijuana. In 1974, marijuana had an approximate 1 percent content of THC (the chemical responsible for marijuana’s high). Depending on the grower, today’s marijuana’s THC content can be between 15 and 22 percent.

Marijuana is highly carcinogenic. One joint is equivalent to 25 cigarettes. It can be smoked, eaten or vaped. Marijuana affects the user’s mental function. Feelings include a sense of well-being, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, depression, apathy, diminished concentration, delayed decision-making, impaired short- term memory, erratic cognitive functions and distortions in time estimation.

Signs and symptoms of marijuana use include impaired tracking, distinctive odor on clothing, decrease in visual functioning and other ophthalmic problems, reddened eyes, slowed speech, chronic fatigue and a lack of motivation. Acute/overdose effects are aggressive urges, anxiety, confusion, fearfulness, hallucinations and heavy sedation.

Withdrawal comes with a loss of appetite, restlessness, chronic fatigue and a lack of motivation.

Methamphetamine

Amphetamine, methamphetamine, uppers, speed, crank and ice are similar in makeup and effect. The second-most widely used drug (after marijuana), meth can come in different colors: white, brown, pink. It can be taken orally as tablets or capsules. Its liquid form can be injected or mixed with other fluids and drank. It can also be snorted as a powder. In its rock form, it can be smoked.

Within minutes after being smoked or injected, users experience an intense “rush”, which is said to be very pleasurable. Although the rush only lasts a few minutes, the effects can last for up to 12 hours and keep users awake and moving for several days at a time. Meth users build up a tolerance, which forces them to have a strong desire for more.

Visible signs and symptoms of meth use are hyper-excitability, dilated pupils, profuse sweating, confusion, panic, talkativeness and an inability to concentrate. Regular use produces strong psycho- logical dependence and increased drug tolerance. High doses may cause toxic psychosis, resembling schizophrenia. Intoxication may induce heart attack or stroke. Chronic users experience increased impulsive or risk-taking behaviors.

Withdrawal causes severe depression. The effects of meth are so potent that there is a 95 percent relapse rate.

Cocaine

Cocaine was once called the “Rich Man’s Drug” because of its short-lived effects. Regular use can upset chemical balance in the brain. It also causes the heart to beat faster and harder. Deaths caused by overdose can occur when taken with depressants.

Signs and symptoms of cocaine use in the workplace include financial problems; frequent absences from work; increased physical activity followed by fatigue, isolation and withdrawal.

Cocaine users usually show increasing secretive behaviors and unusual defensiveness. Other symptoms include wide mood swings, nose problems, difficulty in concentration and dilated pupils. Cocaine addicts exhibit the strongest mental dependency of all drugs, and the treatment success rates are lower than all other addictive drugs.

Opioids

One of the worst drug problems in the U.S. today is the opiate/opioid epidemic. Natural opiates are derived from resin of the poppy plant. However, synthetic opioids are increasingly replacing natural opiates.

Addiction to opioid medications has impacted every level of society. Many people blame the addiction prevalence on health-care providers who are quick to write a prescription for help with chronic pain. An estimated 210 million prescriptions for opiates were dispensed in 2010 alone. According to DrugAbuse.com, examples of opiates include heroin, morphine, oxycodone (trade names are OxyContin and Percocet), hydrocodone (trade names are Vicodin and Lortab), codeine and fentanyl. Frighteningly, prescription opiate abusers are far more likely to eventually develop a heroin addiction than a non-opiate abuser because heroin will offer a similar high at a cheaper price.

Any long-term use puts a person at risk of addiction, even if the substance is used as prescribed. Many people who use opiates will develop a tolerance to them—a phenomenon that can trigger the cycle of addiction. When this occurs, people routinely take more of the substance to elicit the desired response. This ever-increasing dosing places one at great risk for overdose.

Physical signs that someone may be abusing an opiate include noticeable elation/euphoria, marked sedation/ drowsiness, confusion, constricted pupils, slowed breathing, and intermittent nodding off or loss of consciousness. Other signs of opiate abuse include shifting or dramatically changing moods, extra pill bottles turning up in the trash, social withdrawal/isolation, and sudden financial problems.

Withdrawal symptoms from opiates can be extremely severe. The symptoms mimic the flu and include headache, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, fatigue, anxiety and inability to sleep. These symptoms can be so severe that the addict will do anything to feel better.

Don’t Mix Roofing and Drugs

Because falls from roof edges account for half or three-fourths of roofers’ deaths, it’s not difficult to understand why drug use on the job would be concerning. For roofers in residential construction, falls from roof edges accounted for 70 percent of work-related fall deaths and 90 percent of roof fall deaths. These statistics coupled with the statistics on drug abuse in the construction industry suggest that drug abuse possibly may be a contributor to falls.

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Six Risks You Should Know Before Putting Skylights on Your Roof

Skylights are popular for a reason. They add an extra dash of beauty to any commercial building, and they’re a great source of free lighting. But there are also drawbacks, and, if you’re not aware of them, the costs can end up being far greater than the benefits. Whether you already have a skylight or are considering adding one to the design of a new roof, make sure you’re prepared to deal with the downsides:

  • 1. Leaks
    Skylights are famous—or maybe that should be infamous—for leaking. Over time, the seals and flashing can deteriorate, providing an opportunity for water to penetrate your roof. Things like rain, snow and debris can accelerate the process. Modern skylights are less prone to leaks than older versions, but even the best skylight can leak if it isn’t installed properly.

    There’s an additional leak risk, too: ice dams. Skylights transfer heat to the surrounding roofing material, causing any accumulated snow to melt. That, in turn, can contribute to ice dams, eventually causing even more leaks and adding to the cost of roof maintenance.

  • 2. Breakage
    Even standard roofs are vulnerable to the elements, particularly wind and storm damage, but skylights are even more so. Hail and flying debris, for in-stance, can easily crack a skylight. And, when it comes to snow loads, skylights can be the weakest part of the roof. If you calculate the maximum weight load based on the rest of the roof, your sky-light could fail from the excess weight of a heavy snowfall.

  • 3. Falls
    For workers performing roof maintenance, skylights pose a risk for serious injury, or even death. Some workers simply assume skylights are designed to bear their weight and will intentionally stand or sit on them. Tripping and falling onto a skylight presents yet another risk. That’s why the Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration puts skylights in the same category as other open holes and requires that each one is protected by a screen or guard rail that meets OSHA’s regulations.

    However, guard rails aren’t 100 percent safe either. Depending on the quality of the safety net or the weight of the victim, roof-maintenance professionals can fall through just as easily as they would through a skylight.

  • 4. Light Exposure
    While access to free natural light is one of the primary benefits of skylights, there’s also a drawback. Depending on the placement, skylights can actually let in too much light, contributing to glare and excess UV exposure. Not only can that be hard on employees, it can cause preventable damage to furniture, carpeting, art and more valuable items.

  • 5. Energy Loss
    In stark contrast to the lure of free lighting, skylights can have a significant negative impact on heating and cooling costs. Skylights simply don’t present the same barrier to heat transfer that more traditional roofing materials do. In the winter, heat escapes. In the summer, heat seeps into the building—and sun-light and glare only add to that effect. According to the National Fenestration Rating Council Inc., Greenbelt, Md., skylights can cause a building’s interior temperature to fluctuate by more than half the difference between the exterior temperature.

  • 6. Space Constraints
    Skylights take up rooftop space that could be used for equipment or other purposes. To get the maximum benefit of free natural lighting, you need to dedicate 7 to 10 percent of your roof to skylights. That’s space that can’t be used for things like rooftop equipment and supports. It also claims space that might be needed for workers to perform roof maintenance. And if you have a small roof, that is going to be a problem!

There’s no doubt that skylights contribute to a building’s aesthetic appeal, and they can also reduce the cost of electrical lighting. But they have drawbacks, too, and building managers have to consider both aspects to make an informed decision. When considering skylights as part of your building’s future, remember to think about the hidden costs, like increased roof maintenance, heating and cooling, and safety precautions.

How to Prevent Heat Illness in Roofing Workers

Here in the northeastern U.S., the leaves are turning green, birds are singing and the weather is pleasant. Soon, summer will arrive and this nice weather will turn into excruciatingly high heat and humidity. High heat along with high humidity are some of the major causes of fatalities for workers during the hot summer months. According to the Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration, between 2008-12, nine roofers died from heat-related illnesses and accidents in the US. Heat illnesses range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, occurs in hot humid environments. It is caused by sweat not being allowed to evaporate from the skin. It usually occurs in areas of the body where the skin contacts clothing or other skin. Sweat ducts become plugged, resulting in skin rash. Heat rash is more of an annoyance than an illness. The signs and symptoms are usually a painful red rash aggravated by heat, humidity and skin contact. Heat rash, which is often accompanied by infection, is mostly prevented by cleanliness and personal hygiene. The best treatment is to leave hot, humid work environments; allow skin to dry; and bathe regularly. Sometimes baby powder or topical ointments can help.

Heat cramps usually affect workers who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. This sweating depletes the body’s salt and moisture levels. Water loss affects the capability of the body to sweat and, therefore, regulate body temperature. Low salt levels in muscles cause painful cramps. Sometimes these cramps occur after work hours when the employee is resting because the worker did not replenish fluids after finishing the day’s work. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Atlanta, symptoms of heat cramps are a severe rapid muscle tightening accompanied by pain and spasms usually in the abdomen, arms or legs. Workers with heat cramps should stop all activity and sit in a cool, shady place; drink clear juice or a sports beverage; seek medical attention if the worker has heart problems, is on a low-sodium diet or the cramps do not subside within one hour. Do not return the effected employee to strenuous work for a few hours after the cramps subside because further exertion may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Heat syncope is fainting. Syncope usually occurs after prolonged standing or sudden rising from a sitting or lying position. Factors that may contribute to heat syncope include dehydration and lack of acclimatization. Symptoms associated with heat syncope include light-headedness and dizziness. Workers with heat syncope should sit or lie down in a cool place when they begin to feel symptoms. They should slowly drink water; clear fruit juice, like pineapple juice; or a sports beverage.

Heat exhaustion is the most common serious heat-related illness and is often referred to as heat prostration or heat collapse. If large amounts of fluid are sweated out and/or you’ve been sick, you will be predisposed to this level of heat illness. Signs and symptoms include continued sweating; cool, clammy, pale, and/or gray skin; temperature normal or slightly elevated; weak rapid pulse; dizziness, weakness and fatigue; and uncoordinated actions. Heat exhaustion, which is accompanied by nausea and headache, often leads to unconsciousness. Immediately remove a worker displaying signs of heat exhaustion from the hot environment and have him or her drink plenty of fluids and rest in a cool place. Untreated heat exhaustion cases may lead to heat stroke.

Heat stroke is the least common but most severe heat illness. If left un- treated, heat stroke can lead to death. The signs and symptoms of heat stroke include an elevated body temperature of 105 F or more. The skin of the victim will usually be hot, dry, flushed and red. There is the possibility that the victim will suffer convulsions. The victim will no longer be sweating adequately and may be confused or become unconscious Immediately call for medical assistance. Victims of heat stroke must be immediately removed from the hot environment. Cool him or her down with tepid compresses on the forehead, neck, groin and underarms—areas where blood flow is close to the surface. The cooler blood immediately spreads to the core. DO NOT USE ice water because the sudden change in temperature may result in shock. Begin fanning the victim with whatever is available: clothes, cardboard, etc. Heat-stroke victims will need medical attention; the aforementioned first-aid measures are life-saving tactics to be taken before the worker is transported to a medical facility.

OSHA also says the best way to stay cool when working in hot environments is to be acclimatized to the heat. Workers who start working in April when the temperatures are cooler and slowly acclimatize fare better when the thermometer climbs into the higher numbers. In addition, wearing a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat will keep the sun off workers’ faces and heads. Also, light-colored, loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts slow the effects of the hot sun on the body. The days of working shirtless in the hot sun are over. Not only can sun exposure cause skin cancer and dehydrate a person, it also ages the skin rapidly. Cotton is an ideal fabric to wear to slowly wick away sweat, allowing the body to cool naturally. There are also many new synthetic cooling materials on the market to help keep workers cool
in the hot weather.

Staying well hydrated is mandatory in hot weather. Workers may not be thirsty, but they must continue to drink water, juices or sports drinks every 15 minutes. They should not drink alcohol or caffeinated products. Coffee, tea and alcohol can help dehydrate a worker in the heat. A rule of thumb is to have workers check their urine. If they are not urinating, they need to drink more, and if their urine is dark it is a sign there is not enough water in their system.

Remember working in the heat of summer can be very dangerous. We must protect ourselves, our employees and our coworkers from heat-related illnesses. Watch out for each other out there; remember, “We are our brothers’ keepers.”

Learn More

For more information about heat-related illnesses, visit the following websites:
CDC.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/
OSHA.gov/SLTC/heatillness/edresources.html

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.”

Safety Week Seeks to Raise Awareness at Job Sites

More than 50 national and global construction firms have joined forces for the annual Safety Week, a construction industry-wide education and awareness event. Safety Week 2016 will be held May 2-6 to align with what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other federal agencies have set as the National Safety Stand-Down focusing on fall prevention on the job.

Safety Week is an opportunity for people and companies—even competitors—to work together and rally around a common cause. During Safety Week, construction companies will take the opportunity to thank their employees for the commitment to safety and work to educate, inspire and share best practices. Many companies will conduct on-site safety awareness activities.

“Ask anyone in construction and they will tell you that safety is the No. 1 priority—it crosses competitive boundaries and ties us all together,” says Ross Myers, CEO, Allan Myers and Safety Week co-chair.

“That is the reason we’ve chosen Safety Ties as our theme this year, because the commitment to safety is strongest when it’s woven into the culture of our work and is a visible part of our everyday routines and processes. For workers on a job site, this starts with the individual. Every day, each person needs to take responsibility for their own safety and the safety of those around them.”

To symbolize Safety Ties, participating companies will launch social media campaigns around photos of bootlaces as a visible homage to Safety Week.

Three major U.S. construction sites will host ceremonial events during which the laces and a “ribbon tying” will be used as powerful emblems of safety.

Job sites include:

  • The New NY Bridge (replacing the Tappan Zee), Tarrytown, N.Y. – featuring eight general traffic lanes, cashless tolling, and a shared-use path for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • The Crenshaw/LAX Transit project, Los Angeles – an 8.5-mile light-rail line, with eight stations, serving the Crenshaw District, Inglewood, Westchester and surrounding area.
  • The 35Express Project, Dallas, Texas – a $1.4 billion expansion of Interstate 35E between U.S. Highway 380 in Denton County and I-­635 in Dallas County extending approximately 30 miles, through nine cities and two counties to relieve traffic congestion. AGL Constructors, a joint venture between Archer Western Contractors LLC, Granite Construction Inc. and the Lane Construction Corp., in partnership with the design team of Parsons and HDR Inc., manages construction of the 35Express Project for the Texas Department of Transportation. The project is scheduled for completion in mid-2017.

At these events, guest speakers and project executives will speak about the status of their projects and the importance of and unifying nature of safety.

“A culture of safety starts at the CEO’s office and I applaud all the corporate executives who focus on safety as their essential product,” says LA Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “The end users of these great transportation projects understand that by caring for the safety of workers, we also care about the quality and safety of the entire system.”

Additionally, Safety Week activations will be held at many other job sites across the country.

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