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What does severe weather have to do with construction falls?

Hailstorm damage causes uptick in Montana roof repairs

RoofingFollowing a major hailstorm on May 18 and a resulting increase in construction, OSHA is extending enforcement activity and asks for Billings, Mont.-area employers, workers and consumers to protect roofing and construction workers against fall hazards. The Weekend Work Initiative aims to increase workplace surveillance of construction fall hazards and other dangers to prevent employee injuries and fatalities. Fall hazards are the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry.

Construction activity is at a peak because of the hailstorm. OSHA's Billings Area Office is extending its enforcement activities to include weekends, so that fall hazard inspections can be conducted during days of frequent construction.

Extensive damage to area roofs

The historic storm pounded Yellowstone County with golf-ball-size hail and damaged approximately 80 percent of area roofs. For workers and homeowners, the consequences of the storm are not over. OSHA urges those engaged in storm-related roofing repair, exterior siding, exterior painting and rain gutter replacement in the Billings area to provide necessary fall safety protection.

"Falls from roofs, ladders and scaffolds can be prevented by planning ahead, providing the right equipment for the job and by training everyone working on a project to use the equipment safely," said Jeff Funke, OSHA's area director in Billings. "Consumers should verify that fall protection will be used and request information on a contractor's safety record."

A 9-foot fall proved fatal

In 2010, there were 264 fall fatalities nationwide out of 774 total fatalities in construction. The most recent fall fatality in Montana took place on April 9, 2014, when a 51-year-old roofer removing shingles from a residential home fell roughly 9 feet and suffered massive trauma.

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 the agency's Billings Area Office at 406-247-7494.

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