Frank Marino, CSP •

Health & Safety in the Chicago Roofing Industry....Then and Now

The 2015 Chicago Roofing Contractors Association annual safety seminar took a bit of a turn as compared to previous years. This year, we decided to take a look back at not only the history of health and safety in the American workforce, but also as closer look at the deep history of roofing in the Chicagoland area, and the benefits today's roofer has gained from the hard work of previous generations.

The presentation began with a look at the history of health and safety in the workplace.....going back well before OSHA. The importance of the industrial revolution was discussed. The presentation highlighted how developing rules and regulations for children to work safe and limiting their hours. A far cry from the concerns we have today. As mentioned above, a lot took place before OSHA was ever on anyone's mind. Between 1860’s and early 1900’s, a Government Department created for accident investigation, Worker’s Compensation Laws were passed, and the National Safety Council created. All of which has created a much safer workplace for today's roofer.

Then it was time for a walk down memory lane for roofing in Chicago. Several old pictures were displayed and enjoyed by multiple generations of roofers in attendance. In addition to the photos, Rodney Petrick, President, Ridgeworth Roofing Co., Inc. and Joe McDevitt President, Roofs Inc., shared their experiences growing up in the industry and how safety has directly affected their day to day lives. They both stressed how fortunate today's roofer is with all of the health & safety rules in place today to protect them as well as how those rules have made their respective businesses better.

The presentation then shifted to highlight how health and safety is utilized on the roof in 2015. Ken Withrow, Service Foreman, Olsson Roofing Company and Bob Marcucci, Service Foreman, Ridgeworth Roofing Co., Inc. both discussed how they each utilize safety to provide a safe, efficient and productive jobsite. The panel also took the time to explain to those in attendance the value the CRCA gets from having an Alliance with OSHA. CRCA Health & Safety Committee members meet regularly with representatives from OSHA's offices in North Aurora, Chicago North and Calumet City. The objectives and goals of the CRCA/OSHA Alliance are as follows:

  • Develop training and education programs on health and safety issues to improve awareness of OSHA regulations, safety and health management systems, and cooperative programs.
  • Deliver or arrange for the delivery of safety and health courses for employees and supervisors working in the various areas covered by this alliance.
  • Improve the safety and health performance of employers that receive outreach, training, or other assistance services (i.e., mentoring, on-site consultation, hazard identification).

The presentation was wrapped up with OSHA reviewing the top 10 most cited citations for roofing contractors in 2014. This review has become a staple at the CRCA trade show seminar and allows those in attendance to gain a better understanding as to the hazards affecting the roofing industry and where OSHA will be focusing their efforts in the coming year. As in previous years, this component of the presentation created valuable dialogue between the panel and the attendees and everyone left with a better understanding of the state of health & safety for the roofing industry for 2015.

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