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STATEMENT: NRCA Concerned OSHA's Proposed Rule to Reduce Crystalline Silica May Increase Fall Hazards in Roofing Industry

For Immediate Release CONTACT: Charlotte Norgaard
Date: Feb. 10, 2014 (847) 493-7548
  cnorgaard@nrca.net

STATEMENT: NRCA Concerned OSHA's Proposed Rule to Reduce Crystalline Silica May Increase Fall Hazards in Roofing Industry

This statement is attributable to: William Good, Executive Vice President, National Roofing Contractors Association

With the comment period on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) proposed rule to amend its existing standards for occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica coming to a close, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) expresses concern that these new regulations may present far greater hazards to the safety and health of our nation's roofing workers.

The paramount concern for worker safety in the roofing industry as always will be the prevention of falls, which continue to be the leading occupational cause of death for roofing workers. In this regard NRCA strongly believes OSHA's proposal is dangerously deficient with respect to the roofing industry's workforce and ignores the unique nature of roofing work.

Over the course of their careers, most roofing workers will not have exposures to silica dust created by roofing operations that affect their health. In some instances however, during the installation of concrete or clay tiles, or concrete pavers, powered cutting of that material may result in exposures. While protecting workers exposed to silica during those operations is of paramount importance to NRCA, it must be achieved while taking the risk of falls into consideration.

In contrast to other trades performing "selected construction operations" as described by OSHA, roofing workers who cut concrete or clay tiles most often perform these tasks on an elevated, steep-sloped roof surface. Material staging on a typical concrete or clay roofing project results in limited space on the roof for additional equipment that competes with fall protection equipment—in particular lifelines—required for worker safety.

NRCA believes that OSHA has narrowly viewed feasible engineering controls only with regard to the silica-producing task and has ignored the nature of the surrounding workplace and the hazards it may present that are more dangerous and immediate than the silica exposure.

NRCA urges OSHA to withdraw the current proposal and begin working with the roofing industry in a collaborative process to develop silica control measures that address fall protection and other safety risks that are unique to roofing.

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