In the construction industry, falls are the leading cause of death. Roof falls are costly and have a large impact on a company. It is crucial that a company has a solid plan for eliminating roof falls.
To reduce roof falls, it is important to always conduct a thorough inspection of the roof work site, first from underneath and then from above. When conducting the inspection, there are many hazards to look out for such as: bad or suspected bad decking, holes or openings such as skylights, access areas and all leading edge work areas. Once the hazards are identified, a plan should be established that will attempt to eliminate or take measures that will reduce the likelihood of injury if a fall occurs.
Once the plan is complete, the plan must be communicated to the crews that will be conducting the work. The crews shall be trained on how and why fall protection must be used and understand how not using fall protection affects them, their family and the entire company. Finally, once a safety plan has been established and communicated to trained associates, there must be established documented consequences if the plan is not adhered to. The rules must be supported fully by all members of management and must be stringent enough to deter workers from violating them. Members of management and the safety team must frequently conduct job site inspections that will ensure the plan and the rules are being followed.
When the above is completed over and over on projects, a culture is created where safety is of the utmost importance - therefore helping to eliminate and reduce roof falls.
Ryan Gibson, Western & Southern Safety Director, Lenexa, KS
OSHA Hierarchy of Control
As one of the top hazards in the construction industry, roofing falls are preventable. The first step to preventing a fall in roofing is to identify and recognize the hazards present. The second step is to eliminate or minimize the recognized hazards.
OSHA’s Hierarchy of Controls can help accomplish minimizing hazards:
Elimination: Elimination of the hazard is the hardest option and typically is not realistic because there isn’t always a way to do the work and not have a fall exposure.
Engineering Controls: An example of an engineering control would be utilizing temporary guardrails on the leading edges to minimize the edge fall hazard.
Administrative Controls: Implementation and enforcement of a strict fall protection policy is an example of administrative control. The last hierarchy of control and the last line of defense is PPE. The utilization of PPE such as a full body harness and a connection device is not a guarantee to protect an employee from injury because there is still potential for human error.
Regardless of the Hierarchy of Control being utilized for roofing hazards, all crews need to be trained to recognize the hazards, be able to develop a game plan to safely perform the job and also be trained in the proper use of necessary safety protection equipment.
Chad Mumaw, Safety Manager, Hendersonville, TN