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Workers in the roofing industry are particularly susceptible to pains and strains.

Research looking into the health problems of roofers found that those who quit the trade within a year left because of chronic pain and work-related musculoskeletal disorders, according to a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Hygiene in 2010.

Musculoskeletal disorders are injuries that affect the movement or musculoskeletal system such as the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels usually in the hand and wrist, shoulders, neck and upper back, the low back, and the hips and knees.

Workers who install tile or shingle roofs are continually bending during installation and may develop 'stooped postures' which can lead to low back muscle strain, ligament sprain, a bulging or herniated disc, or other back problems.

Prevention is good business

Roofing contractors can play a role in reducing work-related injury. In fact, it's in their best interest.

Statistics from WorkSafeBC, the operating name of the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia, show that between 2003 and 2012, more than 92 percent of back strain injury claims resulting from overexertion were caused by lifting, pulling, pushing, carrying, or throwing objects and accounted for nearly one-quarter of time-loss claims accepted by WorkSafeBC in that time.

Roofing is a physical demanding job that requires continuous bending, lifting, pushing, and pulling repeatedly over long periods of time. These are risk factors for injury. So how can roofing contractors get installations completed and reduce the risk of injury of their workers?

Work Smart

One way is to use tools that reduce or minimize a worker's exposure to risk factors. In fact, it's the preferred way. "The preferred and most effective measure is to design (or change by redesign) physical aspects of the workplace or tools, according to a guideline published by the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union and British Columbia. Public Service Employee Relations Commission.

The new roofer's brush by Garant is an example of an ergonomic tool that can increase safety and reduce risk of musculoskeletal injury.

Introduced in January 2016, the Garant's roofer's brush features a 60-inch fibreglass or wood handle with an attachment that is formed and welded of tempered steel and fixed and screwed onto a 24-inch wood brush head consisting of hard and soft bristles.

What makes Garant's roofer's brush unique in the marketplace is an integrated six-inch nail puller which allows nails to be removed in a standing position. No more bending!

Caroline White, product manager, says Garant spent time in the field, watching and talking to roofers. They presented prototypes of roof brushes for them to use until they got all the features validated.  Not only did the roofers prefer a mix of hard and soft bristles – perfect for sweeping shingles and pebbles – but they especially liked the nail puller and its angle.

"The nail puller is at an optimal angle so that it requires minimal effort to remove nails easily in a standing position," she says.

The Garant roofer's brush is sold across the country in retail outlets such as Home Depot, Rona, Groupe Bedard and Canac in Quebec.

Keep workers working

With the better weather, the roofing industry picks up and experienced roofers and shinglers return to work with new roofer apprentices looking to get into the industry. Contractors may retain crews longer and see less lost-time injuries when they consider providing tools that reduce musculoskeletal disorders.

For more information on the Garant roofer's brush, visit http://www.garant.com in English and French.


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