Close to 30% of all injuries and fatalities in the roofing industry involve fall accidents. Most of these accidents are preventable if employers follow the right safety procedures.
Most injuries that occur in roofing-related falls involve broken bones, severe sprains, and occupational injuries from the lifting of heavy equipment or tools. Additionally, workers may be at risk of suffering serious burn injuries when they come into contact with hot asphalt. There may also be a risk of serious wounds and cuts from using tools and equipment.
Roofing-related fall accidents are some of the more serious construction-related falls, because of the elevation involved. No worker should be engaged in roofing installation work without wearing personal fall protection systems.
Additionally, employers must make sure that any openings on the roof, like skylights are marked and covered in order to serve as a warning to employees. Fall accidents are even more common during wet weather conditions, like rainy weather. Rain is often accompanied by winds, exposing workers to all hazards. Early morning dew, for instance, poses an increased risk of slipping and falling.
Welders may also be at serious risk of burn injuries because they need to work often with blowtorches. Roofing installation work also involves the use of bitumen or compressed gas. Any worker who is working with such materials must be given proper training in the use of these materials, and must also be provided the right personal protection gear to prevent such injuries. A roofer must be provided protective boots, safety glasses, and protective eyeglasses in order to prevent burn injuries.
The risk of injuries also increases when there are unnecessary workers on the roof. Once the installation has been complete, additional workers can be asked to exit the roof area. Workers must be wearing proper fall protection gear, even while exiting these areas. Further, workers may also suffer injuries when they are carrying heavy work tools up to the roof. Targeted training programs can help minimize these risks.
John J. Sheehan is a Boston construction accident attorney, dedicated to the representation of workers who have suffered injuries in roofing accidents, and other accidents on construction sites in the Boston region and across Massachusetts.