Working in the roofing industry is a hazardous career. People in this industry often expose themselves to harsh conditions and harmful materials. Utilizing protective gear and uniforms is essential in keeping contractors safe from unwanted accidents and injuries.
Falling incidents are a serious safety concern because they can be fatal. Reports suggest that a large percentage of the 5,000 workplace fatalities reported each year is due to falling accidents. Therefore, it is necessary for roofers and those working at height to wear proper safety gear such as helmets, boots, gloves, harnesses, roof hatch safety railing, and ladders.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to protect their employees. Building owners must ensure a safe working environment for all employees on-site. Although roofing work is hazardous, you can reduce risks with thorough planning and proper precautions.
To successfully mitigate the hazards in roofing construction, we should first understand the six most common threats that can put the safety of roofing personnel at risk.
Skylights might look appealing from the inside, and they let in natural light, but that area is highly deadly to roofing personnel. To prevent this, as a responsible owner, you should
The OSHA considers all holes in the roof as falling risks, even skylights. If a roofer is doing maintenance and loses balance, they can easily slip through a skylight. Prevent this by covering the skylights with netting or cages to protect your employees during roofing services.
2. Soft Decks
Soft decks are also a falling hazard because the roofer can easily fall through the damaged roofing material. If working in weak spots is unavoidable, immediately inform the roofer of such so that they can carefully shift their weight while working.
3. Steep Slope
Working near a steep slope is a significant falling hazard. Although professional roofers have exceptional balance and focus, one wrong step can quickly put their life at risk.
Unfortunately, a high-pitched roof can be challenging to balance, and workers can drop off the edge if they lose their footing. Roof workers should wear the proper boots with good friction and a harness.
4. Lack of Edge Protection
There are instances where roofing personnel may lose track of how close they are to the roof’s edge, especially when looking for roof damage or busy transferring rooftop equipment. Place a warning line system 15 feet from the edge to prevent a fall accident.
Doing so will alert them when they are close to the edge. Walk pads are another alternative—this material keeps the perimeter and protects the roof from foot traffic damage. However, it’s your responsibility to ensure people stay on the walk pad or within the marked boundary if you decide not to use warning lines or guard rails.
5. Transferring Materials to The Roof
Many on-site injuries result from routine tasks, like ascending and descending ladders. Make sure anyone climbing a ladder knows, understands, and applies basic ladder safety described by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Hoisting supplies onto the roof also threatens workers and other people because they can get hit with falling tools or materials. Like other parts of the job, essential communication can stop many problems.
A pre-work meeting with the establishment owner or manager can identify where you should store materials during work and what areas on the ground must be clear when roofing personnel is heaving materials up the roof.
Although the most apparent risks involve gravity and height, there are still other less-obvious hazards roofing contractors can experience:
- Getting caught between moving parts.
- Contact with heavy types of machinery such as cranes or forklifts.
- Fire hazards, including flammable chemicals used by roofers or if they stumble upon electrical wires.
- Soft-tissue injuries that result from carrying heavy materials bending, and stooping.
Roofers would be less likely to experience these conditions, but it is still best to stay alert regarding safety precautions.
As the employer, you can ensure workplace safety with thorough planning and risk assessment. The best way to prevent falling hazards is by enforcing safety precautions and requiring the workers to wear safety gear and harnesses so that even if they did fall, they would remain safe.