Continuing challenges

Since the Obama administration took office, it has been challenging for the roofing industry to work with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). At NRCA's request, the association's staff and member leaders have met with OSHA several times to address the issues that concern roofing professionals, mainly the agency's revised residential fall-protection standard. But OSHA has not backed away from its positions, including allowing slide guards to be used as an option for fall protection on steep-slope roofs.

However, the discussions have not proved entirely fruitless. On Dec. 11, 2012, four days before OSHA's temporary enforcement measures for residential fall protection were set to expire, the agency extended the expiration date yet again—until March 15. The temporary measures include priority, free on-site compliance assistance; penalty reductions; and extended abatement dates.

"We see this as a positive sign OSHA is willing to continue to discuss the matter and learn why the roofing industry is so concerned that the agency's current one-size-fits-all approach will actually be detrimental to safety," says Tom Shanahan, NRCA's associate executive director of risk management.

The extension merely delays full enforcement, so you still need to comply with the standard and make sure your workers are trained. An updated explanation of the standard and training materials can be found in NRCA's new DVD program "Serving up Safety: A Recipe for Avoiding Falls on the Job."