Massachusetts nonprofit steps up education about fall protection for roofers

The Western Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health is trying to prevent further injuries and fatalities due to roofing falls, as work continues repairing tornado damage. OSHA requires fall protection for any work beginning at six feet off the ground.

Nineteen-year-old James Ivanov of Agawam died Jan. 11 at the scene of a tornado-damaged building in West Springfield’s Merrick section after falling four stories from the roof to the basement. He was working with a crew reframing the house at Union and George streets next door to 687 Union St. where a woman died in the June 1 tornado shielding her daughter.

The Springfield office of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death, which has been ruled accidental. Mary E. Hoye, director of the office, has declined to say whether Ivanov was wearing a harness or taking other safety measures, citing the ongoing nature of her investigation, which may not wrap up for about a month.

However, Hoye would say that it is important to take such measures such as using a harness or guardrails to prevent falls.