A Critic of OSHA Roofer Protection, Rep. Ribble Has Financial Ties to Roofing Industry

Oct. 5, 2011

A Critic of OSHA Roofer Protection, Rep. Ribble Has Financial Ties to Roofing Industry 

Representative Lambasted OSHA Director at Today’s Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a congressional hearing held today, a member of Congress – who was not a member of the subcommittee weighing a workplace safety proposal – inserted himself when instead he should have recused himself, Public Citizen said.

At today’s hearing of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) vigorously criticized the head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), David Michaels, over a directive requiring fall protection equipment for workers on residential roofing projects.

Until recently, residential roofing contractors were exempt from OSHA rules about fall protection. In 2007, the National Association of Home Builders, which includes roofers, sent a letter to OSHA requesting an end to this exemption. OSHA complied with the request earlier this year. The association changed its position soon after.

At today’s hearing, Ribble, who has financial ties to the roofing industry, insisted that the rules were too costly and a burden on business.

Financial disclosure records indicate that in 2010, he earned more than $50,000 in interest payments resulting from the sale of his roofing company, the Ribble Group, Inc. He also received $10,000 in campaign contributions from the National Roofing Contractors Association, an industry group for which he served as president in 2005-2006.

“With the House GOP trying to stop OSHA from issuing lifesaving regulations, we need to have an objective conversation about keeping workers safe,” said Justin Feldman, worker health and safety advocate with Public Citizen. “Rep. Ribble has a clear conflict of interest on this particular issue. Where he should have recused himself, he instead inserted himself.”

Ribble is not a member of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee, but he requested to participate in today’s hearing.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that 176 roofers died on the job between 2003 and 2010. Michaels said that a fall protection policy could have prevented many of these deaths.

Congress must reject corporate influence and support OSHA’s efforts to issue lifesaving standards.