By Shari Carlozzi

There is no doubt that OSHA fines have increased over 80% since 2016 due to the continued growth of the construction industry in the United States and the hazards faced daily by construction workers.

Did you know that over $1,293 Billion in capital spending makes the USA one of the world’s largest construction markets?

  • With construction’s renewed post-recession momentum, market experts forecast new construction in the USA to total more than $1.53 Trillion by 2022.
  • The US building industry employs approximately 11.2 Million workers and is forecasted to grow at a 5% compounded annual growth rate to USD (1, 428.5 trillion) by 20241

With construction growth on the rise so are industry reported deaths. In 2019, 20% of all occupational deaths (1,061) occurred in the construction industry. It is no wonder OSHA fines for violations have increased in the construction industry:

  • Serious or other than serious posting requirements a maximum of $13,494/violation
  • Failure to abate $13,494/ day beyond abatement date
  • Willful or Repeat $134,937/violation

The number one OSHA Fine violation for the past 9 years is Fall Protection. Falls represent 5 of the top 10 OSHA violations and are the leading cause of death in construction.

  • According to the 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics: of the 1,008 construction fatalities, 320 (32%) were from falls to a lower level2

Following the 80/20 rule, 4 specific hazards in the construction industry account for 60% of the construction-related deaths.3 Establishing safety compliance training for hazard awareness and implementing company protocols with mandatory guidelines can prevent or reduce employee accidents.

1. Falls to a lower-level account for 36.5% of construction industry occupational deaths due to:

Per OSHA 1926 Construction Standards: fall protection must be provided when work is performed 6ft above a lower level.

  • When compared to OSHA’s General Industry standard (4ft), falls that occur at just 4ft generate a force impact of 1600 lbs. in just .5 seconds and can result in death.

Employers must provide training for their employees to recognize hazards to prevent falls. These efforts will also help prevent injuries and potential OSHA violation fines.

2. Electrical Hazards in construction account for 8.5% of building site fatalities.

  • Electrical machinery used for construction or provided on-premises increase the potential for injuries and death than in other industries
  • Use of “Lockout and Tagout” techniques help prevent electrocution injuries or deaths
  • Electrical injuries are not only the most complex injuries to treat but also the most expensive due to potential internal damage to the heart, other major organs including skin infection trauma

The cost of compliance is less expensive than the costs associated with electrical injuries and treatment.

3. Struck By incidents in construction account for 8.4% of industry-related deaths.

  • Being hit by another object as small as a hand-held power tool from a higher level or as large as heavy machinery
  • Wearing a hard hat or protective gear may not enough protection from falling objects, and can cause fatal head or spinal injuries
  • Heavy machinery like bulldozers and excavators can crush workers causing severe internal organ, skull, or spinal injuries

4. Getting Caught in Between 2 objects accounts for 1.4% of construction deaths.

  • Clothing, body parts getting caught in moving mechanical devices causing dismemberment
  • Trench or tunnel collapses can bury workers causing traumatic injuries to the brain, spine, asphyxiation as well as broken bones

Employers can prevent such incidents and injuries by creating a protocol to implement the proper precautions to secure tunnels and trenches on construction sites.

What goes up must come down:
Safety precautions are necessary from the moment you reach to jobsite:

  • Loading construction materials on the roof via crane or conveyor belt pose a threat of injury or death to crew members on the ground
  • Identifying live electricity on the roof or making arrangements for “Lockout and Tagout” with the building owner or EHS manager
  • Ladder Safety: proper ladder set up and PPE for safe access up to and down from the roof each day.

Your EMR means business:
Rooftop safety is priority #1 for the building owners and YOU as a roofing professional

EMR (Experience Modification Rating) 1.0 is the point that determines the riskiness of your company compared to others. This is number can and does affect your business costs and opportunities.

  • If your EMR falls below 1.0, your company is considered safer than most. Translation: lower premiums.
  • An EMR above 1.0 can also affect your project award potential with customers who are concerned about your accidents impacting their public image.

The time to create a safety culture in your business is before you hire your first employee, quote your first project, or visit your first job site. The successful contractor focuses on the safety and well-being of his employees and the customers they serve.

As OSHA regulations become more restrictive and violation fines increase, non-compliance can not only cost your business hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it can also cost someone their life.

Build a Safety Culture:

    with the corresponding OSHA standards to the type of roof construction you are providing.
    the proper safety equipment for your crews
    to understand safe practices, proper use of safety equipment and create a company culture or safety hazard awareness.
Shari Carlozzi

Shari Carlozzi
14 years in commercial roofing industry focusing on rooftop installation sales and safe practices in heat welding and fall protection.
Director of National Safety Solutions Sales Team
Certification: OSHA 10, OSHA 30, Competent Person for Fall Protection
Bachelor of Science in Education: Comprehensive Communications