MIOSHA warns to be careful up on the rooftops

At this time of year, the only thing that’s likely to be up on the roof is snow or a Santa Claus way behind on his rounds.

Still, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration probably figures its best to put out its cautions about working on rooftops before the ladders begin coming out and the people start climbing up.

In particular, MIOSHA continues to focus on the hazards to professional roofing crews if proper safety procedures aren’t followed.

While the overall number of MIOSHA-covered worker fatalities declined last year, along with a decline in fatalities due to falls in general, eight were related to roofing activities, double the four fall-related fatalities of roofers in 2016, the agency says.

So MIOSHA has begun the second year of its Stop Falls, Save Lives worker safety awareness campaign before the roofing season comes into full swing.

“MIOSHA is committed to addressing these fatalities by falls through increased enforcement, proactive outreach and collaboration with Michigan’s employers,” MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman said.

MIOSHA will reach out to roofing contractors and others in the industry by mail to promote awareness of the dangers of roofing operations and the importance of safety training. Stand-down events on fall prevention will be available as well.

MIOSHA field staff plan to closely monitor residential and commercial roofing activities in the coming year. On-the-spot inspections will be initiated if any serious hazards are seen, MIOSHA said.

Pickelman encourages employers and workers to check the free resources at MIOSHA’s comprehensive fall prevention website, www.michigan.gov/stopfalls. Publications, safety standards, policies and procedures are available to help prevent workplace fall-related injuries and fatalities.

Roofers even can register for upcoming training classes or tap into MIOSHA’s video library that offers many fall hazard titles, a free video loan service, and video streaming opportunities.

Also available, at no cost to employers, is MIOSHA’s Consultation Education and Training Division. CET consultants are available to help employers develop and put long-term safety and health programs into practice to comply with current MIOSHA regulations.

For free statewide assistance, companies can call the CET division at 517-284-7720 or toll-free at 800-866-4674, or go to the website at www.michigan.gov/miosha.

Does this effort work? MIOSHA claims focusing on the risks in the tree trimming industry in 2017 significantly reduced the numbers of deaths and injuries.

In 2016, 22 of the 43 deaths MIOSHA monitored, or more than half, were related to falls, with six involving tree trimmers. But in 2017, the 38 fatalities MIOSHA recorded included 15 related to falls, but only two were tree trimmers, while eight related to roofing activities.

So they’ve started education efforts now to try to cut the roofing falls in this new year.

“The best time to take advantage of these free resources and services,” Pickelman said, “is before an accident happens.”