According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011 there were over 132 million housing units in the U.S., all of which we can assume have roofs that need maintenance and repair. The roofing industry employs an estimated 136,000 roofers that not only build new roofs, but also repair and replace the roofs on existing homes. The work can be physically demanding, requiring workers to be exposed to severe weather conditions, perform hard labor and do the majority of their job at elevated heights.
Job Dangers for Roofers
Roofing contractors and their employees generally work with several different types of roof materials. While composition shingles are common in roof construction, there are many other types of roofing materials. Roofers may install or repair metal, tiled, wood shake, slate and asphalt roofs. Although the materials may change, all roofing jobs will require a certain amount of lifting, climbing and bending to get the job done.
Roofing is a construction trade and has all the same hazards. In 2011, construction work fatalities accounted for almost one-fifth of all private industry work related deaths. Most of these deaths were caused by what is referred to as the construction industry’s “fatal four”. Three of the fatal four are often risks for roofers on the job.
- Falls. Deaths from falls is the number one hazard in the roofing industry and construction overall. 35% of construction site fatalities involved a fall accident.
- Electrocution. All construction trades work around electricity and with power equipment. Roofers work near power lines attached to homes and must be careful to avoid electrocution.
- Burns. Many roofers regularly use tar to secure shingles and open flames to remove existing material that can spill or cause serious burns.
- Struck by object. Falling debris and materials is a constant hazard at a roofing site. Materials and equipment must be brought up to the roof level and unsecured objects can easily fall and strike those below.
In addition to the fatalities, there are many other injuries that plague the roofing industry. Back problems are one of the most common injuries from the strain of lifting and bending that is required when working as a roofer. In addition, many roofers work with nail guns and other power equipment that can cause a variety of serious accidents, including punctures, bone fractures and even amputations.
Even though the roofing field can be dangerous, if the proper safety precautions and procedures are used, many accidents can be avoided. Roofing companies must provide their employees with a safe work environment, just like any other employer. Some safety measures include:
- Reducing fall risks. OSHA requires that roofing companies protect their employees from falls by providing guardrail systems, safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems (harnesses) or a combination of warning lines with another system, depending on the slope of the roof.
- Proper equipment. Ensuring ladders and scaffolding is properly maintained and secured is important to roofer safety.
- Safety procedures. Employers should adhere to all safety equipment standards for construction sites, including the use of protective gear and ensure employees are trained to safely use power tools.
- Roof collapses. An old or decaying roof can collapse when the weight of the workers and and equipment are on an existing roof structure.
Lawsuits on Behalf of Injured Roofers
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers understands that families and individuals that are coping with a roofing injury are faced with uncertainty and the financial strain a work injury can cause. Our team of Chicago work injury attorneys has the available resources to research and investigate not only if the employer is liable in an injury case but also the long-term costs of an injury to a worker. We will fight to get you and your family the money you deserve to cover your medical costs, lost wages and possible pain and suffering compensation. Our initial consultation is free of charge to discuss your legal options.