August 8, 2016
DENVER – After hailstorms in residential areas, roofing contractors may come knocking – offering to make repairs on damaged roofs. Homeowners anxious to protect their property and their wallets should be aware that some companies put profits before their employees’ safety and well-being, and could wind up costing their customers even more.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found these so-called “storm chasers” often lack insurance coverage to protect their employees and to pay for any damage they cause and typically fail to provide fall protection for their employees to prevent serious injuries or worse.
Falls continue to be the leading cause of death in the construction industry. In Colorado, lack of fall protection equipment in the most commonly cited violation in the state’s residential construction industry.
A roofing company may leave the homeowner liable if a worker is hurt or killed and it does not carry appropriate insurances, the Colorado Roofing Association cautions. The association also warns that – without general liability insurance in place – a contractor may be unable to pay the homeowner for damage they cause and leave the customer to foot the bill. To fight roofing contractor fraud, the CRA has joined with nonprofit, government and business organizations to create the “No Roof Scams” public education campaign. The effort reminds consumers to use a properly licensed contractor with required permits to do the work. In some Denver area counties, contractors must have insurance to obtain an operating license.
“The Colorado Roofing Association’s message to homeowners is very clear: ‘Hold your contractors accountable. If you don’t, you may be putting your home at risk’,” David Nelson, OSHA’s Area Director in Englewood, Colorado. “Consumers must ask and get answers to many questions.”
The agency advises consumers to be aware that – in many cases – the individuals at their door offering roofing services are not employees of the company they represent. The actual work crew will likely be a subcontractor of another subcontractor. Homeowners must be diligent, avoid any pressure to make a quick decision, ask many questions and get answers in writing before agreeing to or signing anything.
Questions should include the following:
Who will install the roofing material?
Are these workers insured?
How will the project be managed, and by whom?
Who is responsible to complete warranty work if there is a problem?
What kind of fall protection will workers use?
Fall protection is a critical safety issue in the construction, especially in the roofing industry. Since the start of fiscal 2015, six industry workers have died after on the job falls in Colorado. In the same period, OSHA has conducted 228 roofing inspections and issued 573 citations with proposed penalties totaling more than $1.7 million. Of those citations and penalties, fall protection violations accounted for 228 citations and $911,000 in penalties.
To bolster its fall prevention outreach, OSHA is working with the CRA, the Better Business Bureau and other organizations to keep roofers safe.
Consumers can help protect roofing workers from needless injuries and fatalities by:
Researching companies thoroughly before you accept a bid to perform work.
Visit www.coloradoroofing.org for the CRA’s tips on finding quality contractors.
Check for consumer complaints filed against contractors at the BBB’s website at www.bbb.org.
Review a contractor’s history of safety violations at www.osha.gov/pls/imis/establishment.html.
Choose a reputable, safety conscious company to do the work.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or for southern Colorado the agency’s Englewood Area Office at 303-843-4500, and for northern Colorado the agency’s Denver Area Office at 303-844-5285.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.