Fall-protection requirements set by the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) have been part of the construction
landscape since the early 1970s. The basis of the rules always has
been that it is your obligation as an employer to provide a safe
work environment for your employees regardless of the hazard or its
origins. Ordinarily, what this has meant for roofing contractors is
they must consider every job site's unique characteristics and
minimize or eliminate fall hazards while weatherproofing a
structure. The methods employed to do so historically have been
temporary—installed for a particular job but able to be
dismantled and used on the next job. Guardrails, warning lines and
scaffolding are examples of such temporary methods.
Recent equipment manufacturing trends, as well as initiatives
from the building design community and some building owners, may
indicate future advancements for fall protection in the
construction industry. One such advancement is permanent
fall-protection anchors. Designers are starting to include them,
and more building owners have been convinced of the benefits of
having them installed on their buildings.
Although OSHA law focuses on employers, other stakeholders who
recently have received attention in eliminating or reducing worker
exposures to falls are building owners, facility managers,
designers, and state and local government building department
representatives. Roofing contractors long have expressed the view
that fall hazards from elevations can be reduced through building
code modifications that require, for example, minimum parapet walls
of 39 inches, caging over skylight domes or...
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