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The process of selecting a roofing contractor often and understandably focuses on such issues as cost, experience and references. But facility managers who ignore a contractor’s safety record run the risk of potential injuries to workers and legal problems for their organizations. Recent and ongoing enforcement actions by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can serve as reminders that exploring a roofing contractor’s safety record and procedures is a critical step in the selection process.
In Illinois, OSHA recently cited a contractor with a history of violating federal safety standards and ignoring safety citations for exposing workers to deadly fall hazards at two separate job sites in October 2021. ECS Roofing Professionals Inc. faces proposed penalties of $360,531. An OSHA inspector observed a foreman and two roofers atop a Hoffman Estates commercial building working at heights of up to 20 feet off the ground with inadequate fall protection. Just 10 days later, an OSHA inspector observed a crew of three working at heights greater than 12 feet atop a residential building in Waukesha, Wisconsin, without fall protection equipment. OSHA found ECS Roofing Professionals failed to equip workers with adequate fall protection equipment, train workers on its use, provide safe access to a ladder jack scaffold platform and ensure head and eye protection were used.
In New York, a Setauket roofing contractor faces proposed penalties of more than $1.2 million after a federal investigation into a fatal workplace injury at a Town of Oyster Bay municipal building. OSHA says the contractor failed to provide necessary safeguards to protect employees against falls. After an employee of DME Construction Associates Inc. died after falling 18 feet through an unprotected skylight, OSHA found that in addition to the unprotected skylight, the employer exposed workers to falls of up to 22 feet from other unguarded roof openings and roof edges and failed to provide employees with any personal fall protection equipment. Before this inspection, OSHA had cited DME seven times since 2011 for fall-related hazards, including not providing protection from falls through skylights and from roof edges, with more than $50,000 in unpaid fines. OSHA issued nine willful violations to the company, including eight egregious per-instance citations for DME's failure to provide fall protection for each of the eight employees who worked on the roof.
Dan Hounsell is senior editor, Facility Group.