Roofing work can be dangerous even in the best weather conditions. OSHA reports that falls from roofs account 34% of all fall deaths. Proper preventative and safety measures should be used when performing roof work to avoid injuries. 

When accessing a roof, you may be exposed to these potential hazards:

  • Heights
  • Unprotected edges
  • Perimeter walls
  • Skylights
  • Physical exposure to natural elements
  • Risk for slips and falls

The right policies and protection devices will ensure that employees can perform work in a safe environment.

  • Roof Access Limited
  • Properly trained (Roof Safety)
  • Buddy system if necessary (Work in pairs)
  • Ladders – Use caution when using ladders, ensure portable ladders are secured or tied off to the building. Use the 4 to 1 rule.
  • Skylights – Ensure these areas are guarded or covered.
  • Parapet walls – Some buildings have no barrier on the roof ledge and others have walls that are too short to prevent a fall.
  • Heat – Workers can be susceptible to dehydration when performing a task under the hot sun on a roof.
  • Footing – It can be difficult to maintain footing on steep pitches, ice, snow, moisture, wind, or flat roofs with gravel. Ensure proper footwear is worn.
  • Electrical – Workers need to be aware of tasks that take them near power lines, conduit, and HVAC equipment.
  • Chemical exposure – Workers should be aware of where chemical fume hood exhausts are located and take reasonable care while working on and around fume hood system blowers and ducts. Also need to ensure that fumes from roofing materials do not enter building if it is occupied.
  • Physical injuries – Roof work involves activities that can cause strain, such as standing for long periods of time, kneeling, lifting, using tools, and climbing ladders.

Before Work:

– Scope of work and time estimate
– Personnel to perform
– Fall protection needed?
– Fall protection present?
– Weather conditions
– Equipment needed

When is Fall Protection needed?

Height of work: If the working surface is above 6 feet or above 10 feet for scaffolds fall protection is needed.

Anchor Point: Anchors are a secure point of attachment. Anchorages differ by type of installation and structure. They must provide a sufficient factor of safety for fall arrest.

Body Harness: Harnesses provide a connection point on the worker to the personal fall arrest system. Distribute fall forces over the upper thighs, pelvis, chest and shoulders.

Connection: The life-line or lanyard that connects your body harness to the anchor point.

Emergency: If you fall, how will someone get you down? Wherever fall protection systems are in use, a rescue plan must be in place. The rescue plan is a procedure, planned in advance, to safely retrieve a person who has fallen from an elevated work surface in a full body harness.

Warning Lines

If warning lines are used they must be set at least 6 feet from edge of roof and be flagged. Lines should be maintained between 34-39 inches from roof surface.

Fatal Falls

About one third of fatal falls in construction are from roofs. Following OSHA and Company Safety requirements for working on roofs is mandatory and necessary to protect you and other from injury.

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