Kentucky Labor Cabinet
Employers Warned that Workers Must have Proper Safety Equipment if Working on Roof-tops and Other Elevated Locations
As the spring weather warms, more and more homeowners and business owners are contracting with individuals and repair companies to fix roof damage caused by severe winter and early spring weather. And, as construction season heats up, the use of elevated working structures is increasing as well. With that comes the increased likelihood that many contractors and workers may not be following safety guidelines when working high above the ground.
Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary J.R. Gray said the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health (KyOSH) division is receiving numerous reports each day of workers atop homes and buildings without proper roof fall protection or safe elevated work platforms. That, he said, violates state regulations and is very dangerous.
“We are getting multiple calls everyday from passersby telling us there are workers on a roof without any fall protection whatsoever,” said Gray. “And, with the increased number of remodeling and construction projects now underway, improper use of scaffolds and ladders has become a problem as well. That is unacceptable and our KyOSH compliance investigators will take action to make sure those workers are properly protected.”
In fact, an apparent scaffold accident occurred in downtown Louisville Monday morning sending several people to the hospital. The incident is under investigation but points to the need for employers and employees to be careful when working on ladders, scaffolds or on rooftops.
Since Jan. I, 2008, approximately 248 fall protection and fall protection training violations have been cited in Kentucky. The total penalties for those violations have been in excess of $565,300, according to KyOSH.
More importantly, there have been 9 fall fatalities and 30 instances of hospitalizations resulting from falls reported to OSH during that time.
KyOSH compliance director Susan Draper says inspectors can cite employers for willful and serious violations of statutes and regulations governing roof fall protection and use of elevated working platforms.
“Violating those laws and regulations can become costly to the employer,” said Draper. “Fines can be as much as $7,000 per serious violation and tens of thousands of dollars for willful serious violations. But the most important part of this is the danger to the workers. Without proper fall protection and training, even putting shingles on a one-story home can be deadly.”
Free safety seminars are conducted by KyOSH. Visit http://www.labor.ky.gov/osh/educationtraining/trainingprograms/pct.htm to learn more about dates and times of classes available.