OSHA Extends Enforcement Effort in Montana

Following a hailstorm, Billings employers are asked to protect roofing and construction workers against falls.

A major hailstorm struck Billings, Mont., on May 18, leading to an increase in construction in the city, and OSHA has decided to extend its enforcement activity as a result. The agency is asking Billings-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. The storm damaged approximately 80 percent of roofs in the Yellowstone County area. OSHA has urged 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, and the Billings Area Office is extending its enforcement activities to include weekends.

"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. "Consumers should verify that fall protection will be used and request information on a contractor's safety record."

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.

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