A young roofer died after falling 20 feet onto a concrete floor near Canton, Georgia in June of this year. While installing a roof on a commercial building, the man fell from the roof and through a layer of insulation before landing on the concrete floor. According to investigators, the young man was not wearing a safety harness, and because he fell through the roof rather than off of the edge, guardrails would not have done any good. At of the time of the incident, it was reported that the sheriff and OSHA were both investigating. It was not immediately known which of the multiple subcontractors on the job employed the deceased worker.
Roofing Safety Issues
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and reported by Forbes, roofing is one of the deadliest occupations, with nearly 40 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers in 2013. This frequency trails only loggers, fishermen, aircraft pilots, and certain classes of mining workers. The most common health hazard is heat exposure, and the most common safety hazard is falling from dangerous heights. While falling is the more common cause of death among roofers, heat illness can also be fatal.
The risk of heat overexposure is particularly great in roofing as compared to many other outdoor occupations because of the prolonged exposure to direct sunlight combined with the use of black tar paper in roofing, which absorbs and radiates a great amount of heat in close proximity to workers. Many other materials roofers use have similar effects, including certain kinds of shingles. For this reason, roofing workers should take precautions to avoid excessive heat exposure.
The roofing profession is replete with a variety of fall hazards. Many people are aware of the possibility of losing balance and falling off of the edge of a roof due to the fact that most residential roofs are inclined. For this reason, guardrails are a common safety device. But with any roofing project there is also a risk of falling through an unfinished or exposed portion of the roof during construction, as happened here. In these cases, failure to be attentive is just as dangerous as losing your footing. Prevention of these hazards is best achieved by guarding holes and skylights, as well as the use of safety harnesses. For more information on working safely in a roofing context, consult the OSHA guide to protecting roofing workers.
Employer and Contractor Issues
Due to the common practice of subcontracting, the question of which employer, if any, is liable for workers’ compensation or death benefit payments arises frequently in construction site accidents. At the time of the incident described above, it was not known which of the numerous subcontractors on the jobsite employed the deceased worker. The answer to that question has implications for determining whose workers’ compensation policy is liable to pay the benefits. In some tragic cases such as when the worker is a self-employed independent contractor, no one is liable to pay workers’ compensation and the victim or his family are forced to litigate their damages and must prove fault on the part of another party to recover damages.
Contact an Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
If you have been injured in a fall or other workplace accident, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Your eligibility for workers’ compensation is not affected even if the accident was the result of your own negligence. Do not let shame or guilt stop you from pursuing your claim. Contact the Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers to ensure that your case is processed efficiently and you receive the compensation you are owed. Workers’ compensation laws are designed to compensate without respect to fault for a reason. The state of Georgia recognizes that workplace accidents happen, and its policy has been to ensure that injured workers are reasonably compensated in most cases.