The roofing industry can be dangerous, but it doesn’t have to be. With a roofing safety plan and the proper safety equipment, you can keep your workers and those around them secure from things like hazards and falls.
Keep reading to learn necessary precautions for roofers, including a roofing safety checklist.
Workers’ Rights Should Ensure Safety
Any reputable roofing company takes pride in enforcing safety rules and regulations set forth by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to eliminate injuries.
Some of the ways in which OSHA laws protect workers is by requiring employers to prevent potential injuries by doing things like:
- Enforce working conditions that don’t pose a threat to serious harm
- Review records of work-related illnesses and injuries
- Provide training and information about hazards at the workplace and how to prevent them
- Provide training and information about OSHA standards that are applicable to their workplace
Essential Safety Precautions
Safety precautions aren’t just about hardhats and safety glasses, though those items are crucial. Safety precautions include proper training, excellent communication, physical barriers, specific equipment, and additional support for all roofers working on a site.
When it comes to commercial roof repair, roof safety is a full-time commitment. Let’s take a look at some of the most vital ways we ensure security on a job site.
Permanent Perimeter Flag Lines and Safety Rails
OSHA law says that any roofer on a working surface with an unprotected edge that’s 6 feet or higher above a lower level must be protected from falling through warning line systems, guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems, or safety net systems.
The very first step we take on any work site is we create a safe work zone by installing perimeter flag lines that are 6 feet in from the edge on all sides of a job. That ensures that all workers will be alerted from the very moment they step on a roof. The bright flags and rope lines make certain that no one will get too close to the edge.
Depending on the job in question, we also install perimeter safety rails for strong physical protection against falls. They’re ideal for rooftop fall protection and perimeter sectioning.
Ladders are one of the main causes of serious falls on construction sites, especially during commercial roofing. OSHA says that anytime there’s a “break in elevation” of 19 inches or more, ladders must be provided.
Fixed access ladders are of the utmost importance for commercial roof repair. They ensure workers can move up and down, safely, without having to worry about a slip or fall.
When climbing on or off a scaffold, workers are extremely vulnerable to fall hazards. That’s why there must be safe access ladders in place at all times.
Ladders should always be OSHA-compliant. Material, weight limits, and protective features should all match job site requirements.
Roof Hatch Rails
Plenty of commercial spaces have hatches on their roofs. For those with hatches, roof hatch railings are required by OSHA. These barriers are installed around roof hatches as a preventative measure against falls.
Training for Safety
You might assume that climbing a ladder doesn’t require a set of instructions, but in fact, it does. OSHA requires employees to train their workers how to use all equipment safety. That includes how to use and take care of ladders, fall protection systems, scaffolds, and any other equipment used on the job.
Employers must train their roofers in hazard recognition too. Workers should be able to inspect, disassemble, and maintain all fall protection equipment involved in their jobs.
Employers are responsible for implementing and enforcing those rules, including leading by example. Fall protection and equipment should be properly maintained and used at ALL TIMES.
Changes in the workplace often require retraining or new training.
Employers must ensure that their workers wear appropriate equipment. They’re also responsible for providing training in the care, inspection, use and fit of any protective equipment.
When using power tools, for example, roofers must wear eye protection and hearing protection. There should also be a safety device ensuring all power tools don’t accidentally discharge.
When using compressed air, it’s essential that workers wear hearing protection and eye protection. In addition, they must be able to check and confirm that the tool’s pressure is adjusted appropriately, according to that tool’s recommendations.
If any hazardous substances are present, employees must have access to and know how to use and wear appropriate respirators.
How to Use Heavy Equipment Training
Abiding by OSHA rules doesn’t only include using proper gear and lighter equipment. It also dictates that all workers must know and understand how to use, check, and care for any heavy on-site equipment.
Plus, the rules are continuously being updated or changed, which is why employers must always be aware of current mandates and updates.
Crane operators, for example, must be certified and pass written and oral exams. Workers must be able to demonstrate these qualification requirements through successful completion of their tests:
- Full understanding of what types of crane signals to use and when to use them
- Knowledge of OSHA rules for crane signaling and who can do it
- Knowing and understanding the types of signals used, including Standard Method hand signals
With regard to workplace conditions, forklift operation, travel rules, and loading and maintenance procedures, OSHA sets out specific evaluation and training topic areas. All equipment operators must be part of the operator certification process under OHSA regulations.
Hydration is Key
Typically, commercial roof repair takes place under the hot sun. Plus, roofers have grueling jobs that require energy and consistent hydration for personal and physical safety.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that for physically demanding jobs like roofing, workers should drink around 7 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Having enough water on the roof is an excellent way for an employer to make sure their workers are staying healthy and safe.
In addition to staying hydrated, workers should understand heat exhaustion and be aware of signs to look for in themselves and fellow workers.
Roofing Safety Checklist
- How will we access the roof on an ongoing basis?
- Are access points in good repair?
- How will materials be transported to the roof?
- Are there any open sides or unprotected edges?
- Are guardrails present and to code?
- Are walkways present and clearly visible?
- Are there any obstructions on the roof or in walkways?
- Are there any pipes, tanks, or equipment on the roof? How will you manage them?
- Do skylights have screens?
- Do vents and hatches have guardrails?
- Is there any risk of falling present from equipment or holes?
- Does everyone have proper safety equipment for their specific jobs?
- Are communication protocols in place and understood?
- Is the necessary signage present?
- Do roofers have adequate water?
- Was every roofer provided with proper knowledge and understanding of the equipment and duties of the job?
Before the job begins, any reputable commercial roofer will first complete a commercial roof inspection checklist.
It’s important to remember that every job is different, and it’s possible that you’ll have to add or take away things from your safety precautions checklist to cater to and ensure safety on each and every job site.
Roofing Safety Is Vital to Workers and Others Around
Roofing safety is an essential piece of any roofing job. Without a sound roofing safety plan in place, workers are at risk of losing their lives.
This is why we take roofing safety to extreme measures, making sure anyone involved in or around a job site stays safe throughout the entire process.