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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

I once had a job for five minutes. A high school friend’s father owned a roofing and siding company and I needed a summer job. After a couple of phone calls, I was hired on. I was to show up at six a.m. at the worksite and begin work on a three story house in Sumner. I wasn’t very familiar with the area and ended up spending two hours trying to find the place. It ended up being this gigantic house with a great view and a steep roof.

As soon as I climbed up, the foreman came up and introduced himself. He asked if I’d ever done roofing before. I told him I hadn’t. He handed me a large broom and pointed to the edge of the roof. “See those loose shingles down there? Go sweep those off the edge. Someone could fall.”

I looked around. No one was wearing any sort of fall protection. I grabbed the broom and started walking toward the edge. I got about two steps before something stopped me. I dropped the broom and told the guy I quit.

Worksites like the one I encountered at that roofing job are not rare. In fact, if you drive around on any sunny weekend, you’re likely to see one. Recently a Guardian representative was on a site like this and asked what their fall protection policy was. Their response was, “Our safety policy? If you see the OSHA guy, RUN.” Like the picture I posted earlier in ‘Playing The Odds’, it’d be funnier if it weren’t risking lives.

In many cases these aren’t new companies doing these things. Some of them have been in business for decades and just think in Old School terms. They’ll tell you how they’ve been climbing on roofs for over twenty years and haven’t fallen yet. This of course is a lot like saying, “I can’t get into a car accident. I’ve been driving for years.”

Experience counts for a lot. This is true. But it doesn’t make anyone accident proof. It’s not just you you’re protecting by insisting on adequate fall protection on your worksite. Accidents cost companies millions of dollars in lawsuits and fines. That’s the other truth. In the long run, fall protection saves lives and money.