There are very few man-made buildings that are lacking a roof and the roofing industry is a busy one. Whether it’s putting a roof on a brand new building or making repairs to an older roof, roofers are almost never lacking for work. However, roofers do work in a very dangerous profession and unless certain precautions are taken, injuries are common. Generally speaking, roofers are at risk of sustaining injuries that could lead to costly medical bills, lost wages, and permanent disability. While the injuries are broad not only in classification but also in severity, there are some common ones.
The Most Common Injuries Reported By Roofers
Roofers, whose job is already inherently dangerous simply because they work high off the ground, are surrounded by dangerous tools and are expected to work in potentially dangerous conditions. The following are the most common injuries reported by roofers:
Each and every shingle that is placed on a roof is attached with roofing nails. While the nails can be driven in with a hammer, it is now much more common and efficient for roofers to use a nail gun. The nail gun is a staple of the construction industry and can be found in many homes. But it also has hidden dangers that leave workers at risk for injuries and even death if precautions aren’t taken.
There is always a risk of stepping on a nail or inadvertently placing a hand on one and causing a puncture wound, however, with a nail gun, nails can become lethal. If a nail gun misfires or is misused, the nail literally becomes a projectile. Roofers have died from having nails shot into their brains due to nail gun defects. Others have shattered bones, suffered serious nerve and tissue damage, or lost an eye because of an issue with a nail gun. One should never underestimate the power of a nail gun; they can be deadly if they misfire or are used improperly. If you’re an individual who will use one for their profession, it’s important to know how to handle them and maintain them properly so as not to put yourself in harm’s way unnecessarily.
In addition to nails, other sharp tools and metals are common on roofing worksites, all of which have the potential to cause a serious puncture wound.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries are commonly caused when a roofer is hit in the head with a falling object, is involved in an accident using heavy machinery, or when they slip and fall on the job. While some patients are able to make a full recovery, others suffer lifelong symptoms, including:
- Memory Loss;
- Speech Impairment;
- Behavioral Changes;
- Loss Of Fine Motor Skills.
The brain is so unique that two patients with nearly identical injuries will display very different symptoms. For example, one patient might suffer from memory loss while the other patient experiences no change in memory. Moreover, the fact that each patient’s brain is different means that recovery time can vary greatly.
When the vertebrae or spinal cord are damaged, a patient may experience:
- Partial Or Full Paralysis;
- Loss Of Fine Motor Skills;
- Constant Pain;
Repetitive Motion Injuries
When a worker makes the same motions over and over and over again, their joints are at risk of being damaged. Repetitive motion injuries are frequently diagnosed in the elbows, shoulders, and knees. One common condition is phalangeal tendonitis, which occurs when the three bones in the finger, called phalanges, can become inflamed from overuse. This inflammation causes sharp pain when moving either of two joints that connect each phalange to its neighbor. In severe cases, surgery might be required to fix the tendon issues and allow for full
Although roofers generally do not work during the winter months, the summer months are very busy. Working in extreme heat comes with serious risks, such as dehydration, heat stroke, and severe burns. Workers should be given training on how to protect themselves during hot weather and should also be provided with necessary breaks, a place to cool off, liquids, and protective gear.
Roofers are at risk of suffering both flash burns and contact burns. Flash burns typically occur when roofers work too close to the site where hot tar is being applied. Contact burns are much more common, especially in hot weather when roofers have removed their gloves for better ventilation, allowing the skin on their hands to come into
Although roofing is generally an “electricity-free” job, there are times when electricity is needed to run power tools or to test for certain issues. One of the biggest risks in this profession comes from working around electricity that is believed to have been turned off. Often, it may still be flowing along a metal wire or within another object and cause unsuspecting roofers to be electrocuted. In the best of cases, electrocution can cause burns. In the worst cases, it can be lethal.
When working with power equipment at extreme heights, it’s easy for fingers and hands to slip into the blades or get caught in moving parts. This can lead to an amputation, which not only changes a roofer’s life forever but is also extremely costly. Even partial amputations, where some fingers are completely removed while others remain attached, can have a devastating effect on a worker’s quality of life and ability to work.
Lacerations may not seem like a big deal but if the cut is deep enough, the underlying muscles, tendons, and nerves can be permanently damaged. Additionally, secondary infection can land a roofer in the hospital.
Preventing Roofing Injuries
The best way to avoid injuries on the job is to take all necessary precautions. This includes wearing a hard hat, using slip-resistant boots, and carefully inspecting roofs before climbing onto them. Protective eyewear can also help prevent eye injuries from shards of glass or debris that may fall off the roof during work hours.
Climbers should always use the proper equipment for their height and weight, with harnesses that are specifically designed to facilitate roof work. If slip-resistant tools are not available, roofers should walk only on the areas of the roof where they can maintain a solid foothold. When working in extreme weather conditions, workers should prepare themselves both mentally and physically. They shouldn’t allow themselves to get overheated, exhausted, or dehydrated. Workers should also always wear protective gloves and keep them close by during their workday.
These are steps that can be taken to ensure the safety of everyone on a roofing job site.
If you’re a roofer who was hurt on the job, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at Schuster Law.