Many roofing crews must wear fall protection equipment in order to comply with OSHA's safety standards. These harness and rope systems are similar to those worn by rock climbers. They can keep someone safe, though that person could still suffer injuries in the event of a fall. Working at heights is very dangerous, and even experienced workers can slip and fall due to factors that are out of their control.
However, not all roofing crews have or use the right equipment. Some experts have speculated that only about 50 percent actually put on their fall protection gear.
Why do they do this? One potential reason is that they simply assume OSHA inspectors are not going to check up on the site every day, so it seems likely that they will not get caught. While OSHA can conduct safety inspections at any time, many only happen after an accident.
In some cases, company owners and supervisors do not give workers the proper equipment because it is expensive, and it can be more time-consuming to use it. When a worker just has a quick task to do at a height, putting on the harnesses and rigging the rope could take longer than the task itself. To a corporation where the bottom line is all that matters, time is money. The risk may appear worth it.
It's not. Workers must be given proper safety equipment, get essential training and be allowed to use it. When they're not, and when they suffer serious injuries as a result, they need to know all of their legal options.