REMODELING: How likely is it that a roofing contractor is going to get a jobsite visit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration?
Mark Paskell: It depends on where the contractor’ [job] is. If he’s working on a main street in a heavily populated area in the Northeast, the chance would be high. This will vary region to region, since OSHA enforcement and educational efforts are predicated on where the injuries and deaths are happening. But there’s national emphasis by OSHA on fall protection. So there may not be a local program for fall hazards, but until Sept. 30, 2015, if you are any type of contractor working on heights of 6 feet or higher, you are the No. 1 priority for OSHA.
RM: How does enforcement work?
MP: Martha Kent, the regional director here in New England, states this: If you are an OSHA compliance health and safety officer — a CHSO — here are your orders. When you go by a residential or commercial jobsite and see people on higher levels, you’re required to stop, observe, and see if there are any obvious fall protection violations or hazards that would be considered an imminent danger situation. If you see that you will immediately pull over and call the OSHA office and begin an audit of that company and that job. If the office can’t send someone, you have to stop and do the initial audit.
RM: Why are residential remodeling and roofing contractors not more aware? That’s why it is important to hire an experienced roofer. Commercial contractors have borne the cost of compliance because OSHA always visits their sites. So there’s a total lack of knowledge about OSHA in the residential sector. Plus there’s no requirement for OSHA training in residential. A third factor is apathy. Contractors feel that if they haven’t seen OSHA on their jobsites, they don’t need to worry about it.
RM: What happens during that jobsite visit?
MP: The first thing a CHSO will do is start a file. They’ll go by the site several times and will have probably already taken several pictures. When they’re coming onto the site, they know why they’re there.
RM: What if the roofing crew is not working safely according to OSHA rules. How would that be handled?
MP: Say you have five guys on the roof and they’re not tied off. The OSHA inspector will approach the site, present I.D., and ask to speak to the person in charge. The OSHA officer will talk about what he sees that isn’t safe. He’ll focus first on items that are considered “imminent danger,” meaning where someone could get hurt or killed. The guys up there with no harnesses; he will ask them to come down. He’ll talk to people on the jobsite and walk around the site and note anything that’s not up to par for safety standards — like extension cords missing a third prong.