OSHA Safety

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.

National Safety Month – Office Safety

This is the final post in which discuss office safety. This topic is often overlooked as office employees are not aware of all of the safety hazards that exist in their work space. There are the obvious hazards such as a slippery floor or open file drawer, but there are also not so obvious hazards such as poor lighting or poorly designed office furniture.

Below is a list of common office hazards.


One of the most common causes of office falls is tripping over an open desk or file drawer. Be sure to close drawers completely after every use, especially those located in a common work area such as a file room.

Pick up objects you or co-workers may have left on the floor and wear stable shoes with non-slip soles.

Strains and Overexertion

You may not think about strains or overexertion when working in an office, but there may be times when you need a box of computer paper. If possible use a hand cart or ask for help from another employee.

Struck By or Striking Objects

Make sure you are always looking forward when walking to avoid bumping into other people, doors, desks, file cabinets, and open drawers. Use mirrors in corners to see if anyone else is coming before turning that corner. Most importantly, pay attention to where you are walking at all times.

Caught In or Between Objects

Office workers can become injured when fingers or articles of clothing get caught in or between objects such as drawers, doors, or windows. Keep hair, articles of clothing, and jewelry away from office machines such as paper shedders.

Workstation Ergonomics

Ergonomics means fitting the workstation to the worker by modifying or redesigning the job, workstation, tool, or environment. If a desk is too low it should be raised to encourage good posture and reduce back strain. Another common oversight involves the use of computer monitors. Make sure that your monitor is away from sources of glare or direct light and position the monitor directly in front of you. Also make sure to take adequate breaks to rest your eyes and muscles. This break doesn’t necessarily mean a break from working, but it should be a break from doing that particular task.

National Safety Week – Slips, Trips, and Falls

Employee exposure to wet floors or spills and clutter can lead to slips, trips, falls, and other possible injuries. Slips, trips, and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents. They are the number one cause of nonfatal injury, cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities.

Ways you can keep your employees safe out in the field:

  • Require the use of personal fall arrest equipment.
  • Install and maintain perimeter protection.
  • Cover and secure floor openings and label floor opening covers.
  • Use ladders and scaffolds safely.

o Extend the ladder at least 3 feet above point of support

o Inspect regularly and remove defective ladders from use.

o Never use ladders in horizontal position as scaffolds or work platforms.

o Never use metal ladders near electrical equipment.

o Do not adjust or move the scaffold while in use.

o Protect workers from overhead hazards.

o If a scaffold is higher than 10 feet, use guardrails, midrails and toeboards.

There are several ways you can avoid surface hazards related to floors, walls, holes, stairways, platforms and ladders or scaffolding. Here are a few to consider:

  • Keep floors clean and dry, free of debris, spills, spent materials, and stored materials; always use good housekeeping practices.
  • Provide warning signs for wet floor areas and mark permanent aisles and passageways and keep clear of obstructions.
  • Maintain drainage and provide false floors, platforms, mats, or other dry standing places where practicable, or provide appropriate waterproof footgear.
  • Keep all places clean, orderly, and in a sanitary condition.
  • Provide floor plugs for equipment, so power cords need not run across pathways.
  • Access to exits must remain clear of obstructions at all times.

For additional information visit www.osha.gov.

In the final post about safety we will discuss office safety.

National Safety Month – Driving

Driving is a privilege. A driver’s license gives you a certain level of freedom, but it also gives you an enormous amount of responsibility. Driving is the fourth leading cause of nonfatal injury and number one cause of unintentional workplace deaths in the United States.

Roofers spend a lot of time driving to and from jobsites. Often these jobsites are in unfamiliar areas giving the driver distractions. Below is a list of unsafe acts that are often performed behind the wheel. They may seem basic and obvious, but are things you should consider every time you step foot in a vehicle.

Unsafe acts behind the wheel:

  • Failing to stop or yield
  • Tailgating
  • Excessive speed
  • Not paying attention to road conditions
  • Being distracted while driving
  • Driving under the influence
  • Road rage

Unsafe Conditions:

  • Poor visibility
  • Icy and slippery road conditions
  • Improper vehicle maintenance
  • Wildlife, such as deer crossing the road

It may appear that sometimes other drivers are not using their heads or considering the results of their actions. Ensure that your equipment is secured. Whether it is ladders or something else, make sure that you do not pose a hazard to others on the road. Proper vehicle maintenance is essential when providing employees with company trucks – remember that your company vehicle represents your company – safe or otherwise!

What you can do:

  • Obey speed limits.
  • Stop at stoplights and stop signs
  • Yield to right-of-way appropriately
  • Use turn signals
  • Do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • When driving on a road that is new to you scan the road from left to right
  • Follow other drivers at a safe distance (2-4 seconds ahead of you)
  • Know your vehicle’s safety features.

For additional information visit www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety.

In the next post we will discuss Slips, Trips, and Falls.

National Safety Week – Overexertion

Overexertion is the third leading cause of nonfatal injury in the United States and results in the second highest number of claims in the low slope roofing industry. An estimated 3.5 million overexertion injuries occur each year. Most are the result of lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, or carrying. Back injuries are the most common form of overexertion in the workplace, but overexertion can also result in physical fatigue, sprains, or strains, reduction in work efficiency, and decrease in the speed and quality of work.

Prevent overexertion by:

  • Stretching and/or warming up before heavy lifting or strenuous activity
  • Lifting with your legs bent and objects held close to your body
  • Avoiding bending, reaching, and twisting when lifting
  • Asking a friend for help when lifting
  • Breaking a load down and using mechanical assistance when available
  • Practicing good housekeeping and maintaining clear pathways

For additional information, visit www.nsc.org or www.osha.gov.

In the next blog post we will discuss driving.

National Safety Month

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, roofing was the fifth most dangerous occupation in the United States in 2009.

Each June, the National Safety Council encourages organizations to get involved and participate in National Safety Month. Each week of the month carries a theme that brings attention to critical safety issues. The overall theme for the month is “Journey to Safety Excellence.”

The National Safety Council saves lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the roads through leadership, research, education and advocacy. By 2014, the council will save an additional 10,000 lives and prevent 1 million injuries by partnering with businesses, elected officials and the public to make an impact in areas such as distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, and safety in the home and community.

Safety is such an important topic that, with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.

Over the course of the next four weeks we will discuss overexertion, driving, slips/trips/falls, and finally office safety.

We would like to know what you do during National Safety Month so please post your comments here.

How Wind Damages Roofs

As deadly tornadoes ripped through Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois on New Year’s Eve, the article How Wind Damages Roofs by Naomi Millan of Facilities Net seems all too important to ignore. This article discusses not only the hazards a roof endures, but exactly how wind moving over a roof can cause damage.

As always, we welcome any comments or stories you have in dealing with wind damaged roofs.

Safety, Safety Everywhere!

I recently read an article in Professional Roofing‘s July edition titled, A Culture of Safety, by Kaylee Alberico. This is a great addition to our series of posts on rooftop safety where we concentrated on three areas of fall hazard control: elimination, prevention, and protection.

This article discusses how different roofing companies train their employees on safety; a common element is that they take a very active role in enforcing safety and getting employee buy-in. It offers great tips to ensure that ever-changing work areas are safe as well as how to keep employees interested in safety.

Safety training for employees at Duro-Last is tailored specifically to job function, but everyone goes through annual training. Content varies from the very basic to intensive, including such areas as environmental, fall prevention, driving, reviewing incidents from the previous year, and changes in laws.

We also have a program to recognize employees as safety milestones have been met. Recently both EXCEPTIONAL® Metals (a division of Duro-Last) and Plastatech® Engineering (a sister company) have reached over 100,000 hours of work without an OSHA recordable accident. These employees were honored with a lunch and recognized for their accomplishment. (See photos below.)

A reduction in recordable accidents directly impacts a company’s bottom line by decreasing workers’ compensation costs, reducing lost production time, and maintaining employees’ well-being. It’s good to know that so many other companies take safety as seriously as we do.

EXCEPTIONAL Metals Luncheon
Plastatech Engineering Luncheon

Fall Hazard Control: Part 4 Protection

In our introductory post about this topic we discussed how fall hazard control – and corresponding cost control – is increasingly being considered in constructability analyses. “Constructability” is a project management technique that reviews a building project from start to finish, during the pre-construction phase.

We also introduced the three types of fall hazard control: elimination, prevention, and protection. In the previous two posts we discussed elimination and prevention. In this final post we will discuss protection.

Constructibility techniques that support fall protection systems involve, to a large degree, the designation and installation of suitable anchorage points. Personal fall arrest equipment technology is rapidly changing but will always be dependent on adequate anchorage. Roof anchorage which is used successively by construction trades and eventually by operations and maintenance personnel is now commonplace on most newly constructed roofs.

Fall protection systems are active by nature. That is, they require the active participation of the protected worker. Fall protection systems require extensive training both of users and their supervisors, and are dependent upon the availability of the proper personal fall protection equipment. They require adequate anchorage points and are most effective where standards or expectations are clear and discipline for non-compliance is certain. Success (translated as ‘no falls from heights’) is much easier to attain when fall elimination or prevention is accomplished through constructability programs.

The value realized with the widespread use of constructability techniques to accomplish fall hazard elimination and prevention is still often difficult to quantify. A glimpse at the potential savings can be obtained by reviewing worker’s compensation costs and third party liabilities costs. Injuries can amount to millions of dollars of additional costs to facilities construction programs.

Using the hierarchy of preference of controls as a guide, constructability efforts should first aim to eliminate and then prevent fall hazards. Fall protection systems should be the last line of defense. The earlier that falls are addressed in a project, the greater the ability to influence the cost. Properly implemented fall elimination and prevention engineering increases in value over the life of a facility.

Fall Hazard Control: Part 3 Prevention

In our introductory post about this topic we discussed how fall hazard control – and corresponding cost control – is increasingly being considered in constructability analyses. “Constructability” is a project management technique that reviews a building project from start to finish, during the pre-construction phase.

We also introduced the three types of fall hazard control: elimination, prevention, and protection. In the previous post we discussed elimination. We will discuss protection in a subsequent post.

Constructability techniques that address fall prevention need to be identified in the planning or design phase of a project’s life cycle but can also be implemented at later stages. The reliance on equipment and physical installations as opposed to work process planning allows fall prevention consideration to take place throughout a facility’s life cycle.

Here are some examples of fall prevention techniques that have gained wide acceptance:

  • Extensive use by all the trades of mobile elevating work platforms and telescopic scaffolding
  • Crane-suspended baskets and suspended scaffolding are now recognized as being inherently safer than reliance on personal fall protection equipment
  • Bringing the work to the worker who is located in a guarded work location surrounded by railing has many productivity and safety advantages
  • The use of warning lines for low-sloped roofing personnel is a significant life saver, if measures have been taken to equip the six-foot area adjacent to the fall hazard with a more substantial method of protection
  • The use of perimeter netting around the edges is becoming more common especially on foreign projects
  • Barricades of all kinds provide protection by preventing exposure to edges or openings and can remain behind to be used for future applications
  • Self-adjusting lanyards (basically horizontal lifelines) are especially flexible in their ability to limit access to perimeter hazards.

The passive nature of fall prevention systems is dependent on adequate inspection and maintenance to preserve their effectiveness, as is an understanding of the fine line between prevention and protection.

The next post in this series will discuss recent regulatory changes that recognize prevention systems and the differences in their anchorage requirements.