Governmental regulations and their enforcement are always a key concern for roofing contractors, and the rules of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were in the news a lot this year, as OSHA issued new residential fall protection enforcement guidelines.
Eric Harbin, Director, Office of Construction Services for OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, was on hand at Best of Success to provide an update on current OSHA initiatives. Harbin gave an overview of current efforts in several areas, including provisions for backing up vehicles, reinforced concrete in construction, combustible dust, and injury and illness prevention programs, before focusing on issues specific to the roofing industry.
“Fatal work injuries to construction workers declined by 19 percent in 2008, 16 percent in 2009, and another 9 percent in 2010,” said Harbin. “It’s great that rate is going down, but we have a long way to go.”
Harbin noted that roofers had higher fatality and injury/illness rates than construction workers and specialty trades workers over the past five years. “You’ve got to hold supervisors accountable and hold employees accountable,” he said. “If a supervisor is up there and no one is tied off, he’s not supervising.”
He also shared 2010 OSHA statistics with attendees, including the most frequently cited standards for the roofing industry. The top 10 included:
1. Duty to have fall protection
3. Fall protection training
4. General scaffold requirements
5. Eye and face protection
6. General safety and health provisions
7. Head protection
8. Ladder training
9. Fall protection systems criteria and practices
10. Scaffold training
Harbin then detailed OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), which concentrates resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations. He noted that 61 percent of the SVEP cases were construction related, and 11 percent of those construction cases involved fatalities. The average fine for violations in 2010 was $1,053, but it jumped to $2005 in 2011.
Harbin reviewed the changes in residential fall protection guidelines, which were announced Dec. 22, 2010, noting that this was not a new regulation but a change in the compliance directive. OSHA planned to begin enforcement of the policy change on June 16, but then announced an additional phase-in period which expired Sept. 16, 2011. He referred contractors to the OSHA website for documents including the standard and the new compliance directive, as well as videos and PowerPoint presentations designed to aid contractors and field workers in complying with the residential fall protection regulations. For an index of the related tools, visit www.osha.gov/doc/topics/residentialprotection/index.html.