Falls from a roof, especially when it’s from a height greater than 10 feet, can be very serious, and sometimes they can even take someone’s life. Per the US Department of Labor, about 350 workers are killed each year because of falls from roofs. This is a little less than half of all deaths in the US on jobsites.
Workers who fall from roofs often suffer catastrophic injuries, including becoming paralyzed. In some cases, workers are killed or left in comas. Falls can occur from heights as low as four feet and greater than 20 feet. The law states that any time there is a fall hazard that is greater than 10 feet the employer must identify this and put together a written plan on how to deal with it. There must be a method of fall protection. The law is also clear that if a worker is working higher than four feet off the ground, the worker needs to be furnished by some kind of fall protection.
There are three different kinds of ways that a worker can keep from falling:
- A fall arrest
- A fall restraint
- A fall positioning.
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All three can be preventive measures to keep a worker from falling. Oftentimes, falls can be prevented completely if a worker is given a harness to wear and the harness is connected to a pole or a stake of some kind. However, on some jobsites the owner of the property or the general contractor fails to provide enough harnesses and safety equipment to the workers.
It is very important a written planning document in which the employer identifies all areas on the job site where a fall hazard of 10 feet or more exists. The plan describes the method or methods of fall protection to be used to protect employees, and includes the procedures governing the installation, use, inspection, and removal of the fall protection method or methods which are selected by the employer.
The applicable law governing fall hazards for falls greater than 10 feet states that the fall protection work plan must point out the fall hazards, describe the kind of fall arrest or prevention that will be provided, describe the fall protection system, describe the storage of tools and materials, and describe the method of providing overhead protection for workers who pass through a worksite, as well as how to safely remove workers from a site.
The job positions that most often result in falls from roofs are framers and roofers.