Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

New residential roofing construction requirement issued

01.13.11

JANUARY 2011 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

New residential roofing construction requirement issued

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 4th- The United States Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in Washington announced a new directive withdrawing a former one that allowed residential builders to bypass fall protection requirements. The directive being replaced, issued in 1995, initially intended as a temporary policy and was the result of concerns about feasibility of fall protection in residential building construction. However, there continues to be a high number of fall-related deaths in construction, and industry experts now feel that feasibility is no longer an issue or concern.

“Fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace deaths in construction. We cannot tolerate workers getting killed in residential construction when effective means are readily available to prevent those deaths. Almost every week, we see a worker killed from falling off a residential roof. We can stop these fatalities, and we must,” stated Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

The national Association of Home Builders recommended rescinding the 1995 directive, as did OSGHA’s labor-management Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health; the AFL-CIO labor federation; and the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association, which represents the 27 states and territories that run their own occupational safety and health programs, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

According to data from the DOL Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 40 workers are killed each year as a result of falls from residential roofs. One-third of those deaths represent Latino workers, who often lack sufficient access to safety information and protections and are mostly nonunion. Latino workers comprise more than one-third of all construction employees in the nation.

According to the DOL, construction and roofing companies will have up to six months to comply with the new directive. The Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration has developed training and compliance assistance materials for small employers and will host a webinar for parties in learning more about complying with the standard. To view the directive and for more information visit: http://www.osha.gov/doc/residential_fall_protection.html.

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