CapEx Roofing Champions Safety in All Multifamily Roofing Projects


According to the US Department of Labor, roofing professionals have the 5th highest ranked work-related death rate out of all occupations in the construction industry. In fact, nearly 50 roofers are killed each year due to falls on the job. In almost every case, these deaths could have been prevented through adequate fall protection and other safety practices. Furthermore, the property owners can easily end up holding the bill from a liability standpoint. This is why it’s so critical to hire roofing professionals that meet OSHA requirements.

If you’re planning an upcoming apartment roofing or multifamily roofing project, here’s what you need to know in order to ensure a safe and successful outcome.

What are the requirements?

OSHA has set forth very specific guidelines surrounding the topic of roofing safety. Below are some of the most important ones to keep in mind:

  • Using a Personal Fall Arrest System (PFAS) – Requires employers to provide fall protection for workers who are exposed to a fall of 6 feet or more (as would be the case with any apartment roofing or multifamily roofing project). These systems – consisting of an anchor, a full-body harness and a lifeline lanyard that links to the anchor – are designed to safely stop a fall and prevent the worker from reaching the lower level.
  • Using Extension Ladders – All self-supporting ladders must be set at an angle so that the horizontal distance between the foot and top support remains at approximately ¼ of the working length of the ladder itself. Additionally, the side rails of the ladder must extend at least three feet above the surface the worker is attempting to access. If the ladder’s length prevents this type of extension, it must be properly secured at the top to a rigid support and a grasping device (such as a grab rail) must be provided to facilitate worker assistance.
  • Safe Debris Disposal – Employers must take worker safety into consideration when determining which method to use for handling debris. If not handled properly, debris can become a hazard that could lead to dangerous and/or deadly falls. Likewise, falling debris could potentially hit workers or residents below. There are a number of ways employers can implement safer debris disposal. For instance, CapEx Roofing is an expert at Resident Awareness and incorporates Safety Zones around the perimeter of multifamily buildings to keep employees and residents alike safe at all times.

To view more detailed information on all of the OSHA roofing requirements, please click here.

What are the consequences?

Besides the obvious risk of injury or death, failing to comply with OSHA requirements can result in a whole host of other serious and costly consequences. In 2010, both the owner and foreman of a California roofing company were charged with felony involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of an employee who fell 38 feet to the pavement below while working on an apartment roofing project. The worker was not wearing a harness when he fell and there was allegedly no supervision of his work along the edge of the roof.

More recently, in 2015 the owner of a PA roofing company was sentenced to 10 months in prisonfor charges related to the fatal fall of one of his employees. The worker died after falling approximately 45 feet. Not only was it determined that the owner failed to provide fall protection equipment to his employees, but the OSHA investigation of the fatality revealed that he attempted to cover his tracks by falsely stating that he had provided fall protection equipment, including safety harnesses, to his employees.

And these are just the consequences to employers, workers and, of course, their families. As mentioned above, failure to institute proper multifamily roofing safety precautions can also place residents and even passers-by in danger. In those instances, the building owners could end up being held partially liable for any damage, injury or death that results.

What can be done?

OSHA provides additional guidelines on what to do to further prevent potential roofing accidents:

  • Plan the right equipment
  • Provide the right equipment
  • Train everyone to use the equipment safely

Additionally, choosing a roofing company that strictly adheres to all OSHA requirements at all times is recommended – particularly one that has extensive experience and specializes in only multifamily roofing and preferably one that provides an independent safety inspection report, which few do. The more proactive you are about the professionals you choose to handle your roofing projects, the safer and more efficiently those projects will be carried out for optimum results.

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