Risks on Roofing Projects and Keeping Roofers Safe
Safety and injury prevention are the responsibility of every roofing contractor. Prior to the start of any roofing project, safety plans should be reviewed with both the customer and crews. A goal for every roofing crewmember is to return home safely to their families every evening.
Roof falls are one of the most serious dangers on construction sites. The key to fall hazard awareness is training and the use of fall protection. Pre-job planned inspections, scheduled and random safety inspections help minimize risks from falls and decrease problems.
Risks on Roofing Projects:
Ladders: The set-up of a ladder and proper climbing are keys to prevent ladder falls. Set the ladder up on a level surface; maintain a distance of 10 feet from power lines; avoid obstructions and high traffic areas; and, use the 4:1 ratio.
Before stepping on the ladder, remember to: Stop, Think and Remind yourself it only takes a split second to fall. Do not become complacent!
When climbing a ladder, always maintain 3-point contact: two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand on the ladder at all times.
Personal Fall Protection:
There are two types of personal fall protection - fall arrest and fall restraint. Any fall arrest or restraint system is only as good as the training and the quality of the equipment.
Fall Arrest System - protects an individual after a fall and, if used properly, prevents the worker from hitting the ground.
Fall Restraint System - prevents the worker from falling, when properly used. The system hinders the worker from being able to reach a fall hazard by allowing the roofer to work up to the edge of the roof but not able to go over the edge. The equipment used is a full body harness, a lanyard or rope grab along with an anchor point.
Warning lines are established to create a working perimeter for crews. The bright yellow flags provide the crews with a clear indicator of the distance to an unprotected roof edge. Warning lines also serve as clear indicators of access/egress to the roof and set up a walkway with a clear travel path to the work area. They can be used to flag off skylights and other identified hazards on the roof.
Warning lines are made of rope, wire or chain. A flag must be visible every six (6) feet, erected at a minimum of six (6) feet from the fall hazard and 34-to-39-inches from roof level.
Guardrails can also be used around the roof’s perimeter and can be a permanent solution if necessary. If guardrails are in place than the use of warning lines is not necessary.
Skylights are an often overlooked roof hazard and need to be identified. Skylights may have a coating or spray foam application over the top making them difficult to identify. Domed skylights may have internal cages that do not meet applicable standards or have the capability to support twice the expected weight load. Flush mount skylights may be improperly covered or not covered at all. If you are unsure or unable to fully inspect roof areas with skylights, treat the area as a fall hazard.
Cost-effective solutions to prevent falls through skylights include: installing a permanent skylight screen or cage, guardrail system or warning line system.
Fall hazard awareness, proper equipment and continuous training help prevent roof falls. Roof fall hazards include unprotected edges, bad decking, open holes, unprotected skylights and falls from ladders.
Safety is the top priority for all workers on the roof.
With pre-job safety inspections, a written safety plan, inspections during the job and proper adherence to safety plans and training, roofer safety increases. All these factors help maximize safety and minimize injury and deaths.