As the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (MIOSHA's) "Stop Falls. Save Lives." worker safety awareness campaign continues into its second year, its focus will be on reducing worker deaths resulting from falls in the roofing industry, according to www.michigan.gov.
Although the overall number of MIOSHA-covered worker fatalities declined last year—and there was a decline in fall-related fatalities in general—eight were related to roofing activities, which is double the four fall-related fatalities of roofing workers in 2016.
"MIOSHA is committed to addressing these fatalities by falls through increased enforcement, proactive outreach and collaboration with Michigan's employers," says MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman. "While MIOSHA is encouraged with 2017's downward trend in worker fatalities due to falls in general, and more significantly in the tree trimming industry that we focused on last year, any worker death is, tragically, one too many."
The safety campaign aims to raise awareness of fall hazards and educate employers and employees that all falls are preventable with continued training, appropriate equipment and diligent safety awareness in the workplace or on the job site.
Falls historically have been the leading cause of death in the construction industry—in Michigan and the U.S.—but 2017 marked an increase in fall-related deaths among roofing workers.
MIOSHA will focus its outreach to roofing contractors and the industry by sending letters to employers to promote awareness of the dangers of roofing operations and the importance of safety training, as well as holding stand-down events regarding fall prevention. MIOSHA field staff will be closely observing residential and commercial roofing activities during the coming year, and on-the-spot inspections will be initiated if any serious hazards are observed.
Pickelman encourages employers and workers to check out MIOSHA's comprehensive fall-prevention website, www.michigan.gov/stopfalls, which offers free valuable resources, such as publications, safety standards, policies and procedures. Additionally, MIOSHA's Consultation Education and Training Division offers consultants to help employers develop and implement long-term safety and health programs.
In 2016, of MIOSHA's covered 43 fatalities, 22 were related to falls, with six fall fatalities for tree trimmers. In 2017, of MIOSHA's 38 covered fatalities, 15 were related to falls, with two fatalities for tree trimmers and eight fatalities related to roofing activities.
"I urge all employers and employees to take every safety measure and precaution when working at higher elevations and be alert for any hazards," Pickelman says. "Together, we can stop falls and save lives to help ensure that every Michigan worker goes home unharmed at the end of the day."