When it comes to working on the roof, whether it is done by a professional or amateur, rooftop safety is a must. Special care needs to be taken to help avoid personal injury and damage to the building. Professional roofers take great caution when it comes to safety on the roof and already know where the danger lies. Therefore, it is best to see what rooftop safety best practices are to keep everyone safe.
By developing, implementing and maintaining effective safety measurements while working on the roof, you can avoid those dangerous situations and damaging accidents. The roof is dangerous, merely because of the height, slope, and uneven footing. Commercials roofs that have gravel rooftops, for instance, need an extra caution because of the unsteady footing.
The Common Dangers on a Rooftop
Under extreme heat conditions, workers can be at risk of dehydration or heat stroke, being on top of the roof or at the ground level. When working on a rooftop, the heat can become even more extreme as the roof itself will reflect the heat. Workers need to be cautioned in hot weather so they can stay attentive and hydrated.
Ice, snow, rain, and moisture are sure to make a roof slippery which is a big hazard for roofers as they can slip and fall. Roofs which are very steep or where gravel is present can also cause a slipping accident. It is for the workers own safety to wear the appropriate footwear when going on top of the roof.
Some buildings do provide roof access from the inside, but for those who don’t, ladders need to be used. Ladders that are not secured correctly can lead to a fall or even death.
Vents and Ductwork
A workers view can be blocked by obstructions that are on top of the roof, like exposed vents and ductworks. Unfortunately, these obstructions cannot be avoided by taking them off.
Workers need to be careful of electricity that might be on some roofs like a near overhead power line, conduit, solar panels, and HVAC equipment.
Another hazard to roofers is the possibility that they might breathe in or touch some toxins. Some roofs may contain asbestos or lead as well as biological materials which come from rodent or bird droppings.
Injuries can occur when doing the heavy lifting on a rooftop while using tools or climbing a ladder. Strain can also be caused by standing for long periods at a time.
Wires, Trees and Loose Debris
In many cases, there may be tree branches that can obscure the view or cables that extend across the roof. These obstacles can also cause roofers to fall.
Besides from the dangers that roofers face when working on a roof, there is also a chance of causing damage to the roof itself if there is negligent contact. The surface of the roof can be weakened when walking on high traffic areas, or the membrane of the roof can get punctured if tools drop by accident.
Ways to Ensure Safety on the Roof
The right training is crucial for all roofers. By practice, they will learn how to use their tools and equipment properly which improves their safety as well as efficiency in any given weather conditions and environment. Here are some ways for ensuring safety while being on the roof:
- The work area should be organized and clean. The work areas should be apart from common danger areas which will help avoid unnecessary injuries to pedestrians, and the equipment should be blocked off.
- The right safety wear should be worn when on sites, like the appropriate footwear, hard hats, gloves, and safety goggles. Harnesses are also great to use; if tied securely, they can help to avoid injury if an accident happens.
- Ladders can be secured with stabilizers or other means. This way, the ladder is steady while also preventing damage to the gutter system of the building.
- It is good to adopt the habit of cleaning up as you work. In this way, you are not creating debris, and other hazardous objects are not lying around, so it can not lead to a fall.
- Sometimes the job needs to be planned around the weather. Rain, snow and very high temperatures are the typical weather conditions to avoid.
- You can make your roof a safer working environment if you install retrofit options. Many host options which are not too expensive are available and can be added without a significant modification while lasting for years on end.
- Going up on the roof by yourself can put you in a dangerous situation if something goes wrong. Therefore, going up in pairs will give you an extra set of eyes that can notice an unsafe condition or call someone for help if an incident happens.
- If someone goes up on the roof alone, he/she should communicate with someone on the ground, either by radio or phone. Frequent check-ins with the other person are crucial to let the person know that all is well on the roof. Intervals of 15 minutes are good enough to give the worker on the roof enough time to get something done while keeping him safe.
- Besides from adding new additions to the roof, the main reason for going up on the roof is due to maintenance and repairs. But even if neither of this is needed at the moment, it is crucial to schedule inspections for upkeep sake. Inspections are required before work is being performed on the roof and workers should be prohibited to access the roof unless inspection is completed in a set amount of time. Soft spots on the roof can be caused due to rot, which is just one of the reasons why roof inspections are essential. Roof-mounted anchor points, for instance, needs to be inspected periodically. When an investigation is completed, it is in your best interest to document the finished process.
- Sometimes the accident can happen no matter how cautious you are. Always be prepared for a case the rescue is needed. Having a plan beforehand, emergency numbers on speed dial and at least a basic emergency kit will help you stay calm. Having a rescue squad on site will give you and your workers the greatest peace of mind.
Keep Traffic of Your Roof
Damaging traffic to your roof can be avoided by installing walkways paths. Walkway paths can easily be welded to an existing roof. This provides an additional layer of cushion to keep your roof safe from possible damage.
Rooftop safety starts with training, and that is why it should be the fundamental part of your safety program. Building owners can also make use of online and free resources that will provide the staff with webinars, whitepapers, and videos. When choosing a roofing contractor, make sure that they offer a workman’s comp insurance for their employees. One can never be too safe when going up the roof!