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State and Federal Officials Spar Over Fall Protection for Residential Rooftop Workers

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roofer Falls account for about half of all fatal residential construction accidents and for nearly 80 percent of fatal accidents that occur in the residential roofing industry, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Despite these telling numbers, safety officials are seeing a pushback from building contractors and some states when it comes to providing workers with fall safety protection, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The reason being cited for not providing these safety features for the workers is its cost.

Resistance from States

Arizona is one of seven states that are resisting these protective measures. Arizona law requires on-the-job fall protection only for work being done above 15 feet, higher than the 6-foot federal requirement. Many contractors say such protection is too expensive or that it can create new issues. Contractors and officials in seven states including Arizona are refusing to comply setting off a fight between federal and state governments.

Last month, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) took the unprecedented step of proposing to take over construction workplace safety in Arizona because the state does not mandate proper fall protection. State officials are still maintaining that their regulations “are adequate.” Contractors have long argued that measures such as training and monitoring workers are sufficient for ensuring fall protection.

Staggering Number of Fatalities

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 190 on-the-job deaths among residential construction workers in 2013, up from 154 in 2011, a 23 percent increase. By comparison, fatalities in commercial, industrial and municipal construction went up just by 4 percent during that same period.

It is clear that residential roofers and workers die from fall-related accidents more frequently even though they work at lower heights because they don’t have the safety protections they need. Contractors continue to argue that requiring these safety protections will drive up construction costs. For example, some say safety harnesses with retractable ropes can cost up to $300 per worker and limit the movement of roofing framers and lengthen the time it takes to complete the project.

Compensation for Injured Workers

There is no question that these workers should have proper protections while on the job. We’ve seen so many cases of families that have lost loved ones and sole breadwinners in fall accidents. We’ve dealt with cases where workers have suffered catastrophic injuries or disabilities that prohibit them from earning a livelihood or continuing to work in construction. When workers suffer injuries on the job, they can seek workers’ compensation benefits from their employers for damages such as medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. They may also be able to file a third-party claim for significant money damages against a party other than the employer whose negligence may have caused the injuries. Examples of third parties include, but are not limited to, general contractors, sub-contractors, building owners, manufacturers of defective products, etc.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Our law firm recovered $3,375,576 for a construction worker (an undocumented immigrant) who was injured on the job – one of the highest construction case settlements in New York in 2010.

Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:

1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES

Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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