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32 MARCH 2016 COATINGSPROMAG.COM Safety Watch P reventing falls in the roofing industr y is arguably the number one safety priority. A nd w ith good reason: Falls are the number one cause of fatalities in the construction industr y, and the roofing industr y has one of the highest numbers of fall incidents in construction. In fact, the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that the construction industr y had 349 fall-related deaths, of which 69 were associated w ith roofing activ- ities. T his has not gone unnoticed by those outside of the industr y as insur- ers, government agencies, and building ow ners can attest. As a result of this dubious distinc- tion, professional roofing contractors pay some of the highest workers' compensation premiums in the countr y, endure more Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSH A) inspections and fines, and work hard to develop a reputation for safety to allay ow ners' concerns. It's no easy task. Interestingly, a recent study published by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) shows the efects of overlapping factors that contribute to increased injuries and deaths for certain workers, such as race, age, and size of business. In other words, looking at why an injury occurs is best done when multiple factors are considered. I agree and would argue that there are also overlapping considerations for certain aspects of safely working on a roof that need to be considered as well. For example, the roofng industry has been looking at fall protection, considering multiple factors for some time. However, it really hasn't gotten much attention either within or outside of the industry. And the attention that has been paid to it has, at best, not been fully understood or, at worst, been largely dismissed. The Three Variables Looking at fall protection in roofng as an area where the concept of overlap- ping vulnerabilities makes a lot of sense. In particular, fall protection is best served when consideration is given to three variables: 1. building height; 2. roof slope; 3. roof membrane to be installed (or insert applicable activity, such as "coating"). Often, consideration is given to only one of these factors: slope. Taking all three factors into consideration can change a perspective as to what fall protection systems to employ that Falls are the number one cause of fatalities in the construction industry, and the roofng industry has one of the highest numbers of fall incidents in construction. Free-fall distance—6 feet (OSHA maximum) Deceleration distance—3½ feet (OSHA maximum) Elongation of harness and lifeline—1 foot Worker height at attachment— 5 feet (D-ring) Safety factor—1 to 2 feet Calculated clearance: 16 ½ -17 ½ feet Diagram 1. Fall Clearance Equation By Tomas R. Shanahan, MBA, CAE, Vice President, Enterprise Risk Management for NRCA Fall Protection From Multiple Vantage Points