OSHA says it’s trying to level the playing field with new rules for residential construction. But some builders say the new rules are having the opposite effect: They’re tilting the field in such a way that cheaters are prospering, and those who comply are in danger of falling over the edge.
“We’re getting beaten by people who say they don’t care about the rules,” Bill Moore of Legacy Contracting Solutions told the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post.
The agency is now requiring residential, as well as commercial, builders to use fall-arrest systems.
Moore says his company is hemorrhaging business because homeowners don’t want to pay the extra he now has to charge. The equipment is expensive, he says, and the extra labor is even more expensive, because of the extra time it takes roofers who can no longer freely roam.
Adding to the frustration: Some builders don’t think the rules make sense. OSHA says slide guards — lips that can be installed on a roof’s edge — are no longer acceptable under most circumstances.
But, says Tom Shanahan of the National Roofing Contractors Association, on roofs with little slope, lines can get tangled on the ground and actually trip up workers. There have been more deaths from people using fall-arrest systems, he said, than from using slide guards — because workers sometimes unhook themselves to grab equipment or set up elsewhere, and forget they’re no longer tethered.
Moore said his company had lost five jobs to lower bidders that very day, and that he was concerned about going out of business. His company will continue to follow the rules, he said, but “it’s now us against who’s cheating, and that’s a tough battle to fight.”