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Richmond, B.C., March 24, 2010 — The two-day Putting the Roof on Injuries Symposium starting today at Okanagan College examines falls and other safety challenges that make roofing a high risk industry for workers.
Sessions include a panel discussion of industry experts where attendees can ask questions and raise concerns regarding industry practices; a full-day training course on fall protection; and personal stories from a mother whose son is brain injured as a result of a roofing fall, two roofers who were injured on the job, and an employer speaking about the business benefit of a proper safety system.
“Today is about changing a workplace culture that continues to result in significant injuries and sometimes loss of life. The sector needs to focus on conducting work the safe way,” said Diana Miles, WorkSafeBC’s Vice-President of Worker and Employer Services.
The workplace injury rate for roofing far exceeds the average provincial injury rate for all industries in B.C. In 2008, the overall injury rate for all industries was 2.96 per 100 person years of employment. By comparison, steep slope roofing saw an average injury rate of 11.5 for the same year and low slope roofing with an average injury rate of 8.5.
In 2008, there were 280 accepted claims in steep slope roofing – costing more than $6.2 million and resulting in 18,448 lost workdays. In low slope roofing, the 243 accepted claims in 2008 resulted in a cost of more than $3.4 million and 10,337 days lost. Falls typically comprise the largest portion of the injury claims and costs to the industry. Inadequate fall protection was most often most often the cause of falls.
Roofing is the industry penalized most frequently for violations of workplace health and safety regulations – 77 of the 211 penalties finalized in 2009 were against roofing companies. Many of those penalties were the result of repeated infractions, with many addressing fall protection regulations.
“We are excited to be a part of this important initiative as the venue host and in having students from our construction trades program build the roofing models that will be part of a fall protection safety demonstration,” said Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College.
WorkSafeBC information materials aimed at eliminating workplace accidents in roofing and construction including toolbox talks, hazard alerts, bulletins and more can be found on the Construction portal on WorkSafeBC.com.
WorkSafeBC is an independent provincial statutory agency governed by a Board of Directors that serves about two million workers and more than 200,000 employers. WorkSafeBC was born from the historic compromise between B.C.’s workers and employers in 1917 where workers gave up the right to sue their employers and fellow workers for injuries on the job in return for a no-fault insurance program fully paid for by employers. WorkSafeBC is committed to safe and healthy workplaces and to providing return-to-work rehabilitation and legislated compensation benefits.
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