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Ohio Contractor Exposes Roofers to Fall Hazards

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited Ohio roofing contractor, Casey Bortles, for safety violations. They found that the contractor was not protecting his employees from falls and other hazards, and proposed penalties of $91,629.

Bortles has been cited for similar violations four other times since 2014.

Ohio Contractor Exposes Employees to Fall Hazards

The fines came about after OHSA performed an inspection at a Waterville residential site. Five of Bortles’ roofers were working at the site on October 26, 2017, but inspectors found that they were working at heights greater than eight feet without adequate fall protection. They were also using nail guns without eye protection. They cited the company for both violations, as well as for not developing and maintaining an accident prevention program.

OSHA Toledo area office director, Kim Nelson, stated that employers are responsible for ensuring employees are protected from hazards at the work site, but that this employer “continues to expose employees to fall hazards by failing to comply with federal safety requirements.”

Previously, Bortles was fined $17,160 for workplace safety violations.

Study Finds Roofing Falls More Common in Contracted Workers

According to the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) Data Center study, falls from roofs accounted for one-third of fall-related construction fatalities from 1992-2009. They added that a disproportionately high percentage (67 percent) of deaths from roof falls occurred in small construction establishments with one to ten employees.

“Roofers, ironworkers, workers employed with roofing contractors, or working at residential construction sites, had a higher risk of roof fatalities.”

OSHA provides guidance on fall prevention safety and requires employers to follow OSHA regulations. In 2010, they announced a new directive withdrawing a former regulation that allowed residential builders to bypass fall protection requirements. That regulation was initially put into place because of concerns about the feasibility of fall protection in residential construction, but there were too many fall-related deaths to continue to ignore the issue.

“We cannot tolerate workers getting killed in residential construction,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels, stated in a national news release, “when effective means are readily available to prevent those deaths. Almost every week, we see a worker killed from falling off a residential roof.”

OSHA provides a number of fact sheets to help inform employers of their responsibilities.

Eye and Face Injuries Can Be Prevented

OSHA also requires that employers provide eye and face protection when needed. They note that eye injuries alone cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and worker compensation.

When exposed to chemical, environmental, and radiological hazards, employees are to wear eye protection. Companies are also supposed to train employees on how to use personal protective equipment.