OSHA is now requiring all residential contractors that work at heights of six feet and above to provide a fall protection plan, training and proper fall protection equipment to their crews. If OSHA finds them not in compliance, the roofing contractor can face steep fines and work stoppages until they can become compliant. Residential contractors can attend fall protection training to get certified and understand the requirements.
So although it may look like your roofing crew can effortless climb up, over and around your roof in any way that they please, roofing safety is a requirement and priority for any roofer. As time progresses, most roofers become more and more comfortable navigating almost any roof under a variety of conditions. Despite the fact that they may be very good at doing this, skipping basic safety precautions could lead to an devastating accident for even the most experienced contractor. One of the most important types of protection for any roofer is fall protection.
Why Is Fall Protection Important?
Falls account for many of the deaths and serious injuries in the construction industry. As many as 6 roofers each month experience a fall that results in death in the United States. Because of this, it is very important for roofers to have fall protection when working on a roof, especially one with a steep grade. These are some of the steps that roofers must take to reduce their risk of falls when working on a roof:
- Keep Your Work Area Clean – A roofer’s work area should be as clean and organized as possible. Before getting started, any potential dangers should be identified, such as power lines and unsafe access areas. The work area should also be properly blocked off from children and pets to prevent unnecessary distractions and injuries. The work area on the roof itself should be kept clean of as much dirt, debris and tools as possible. This will help any slips and trips.
- Avoid Wet Roofs – This one is simple. Wet roofs are slick. They should be allowed to dry before resuming work.
- Wear Appropriate Footwear – Boots, such as soft-soled boots provide great roof traction that helps keep contractors from slipping and falling.
- Ladder Safety – You should always set up and climb your ladder in a safe manner. The safest ladders are type 1A ladders, and all ladders should follow local codes and be approved by OSHA. Before each use, give your ladder a quick inspection to look for any damage or wear. All ladders should be placed on solid, level areas and tied off at the top with a plywood break. They should also extend 36 inches above the landing or roof area to make sure that there is enough to grab when making the transition from ladder to roof.When climbing a ladder, a roofer should always face the ladder, use only one rung at a time and be careful not to overload the ladder. When not in use, ensure that any ladder has been removed from the work area so that no one injures themselves while it is unattended.
- Use Appropriate Fall Protection Equipment – When working on a roof with a steep pitch, special safety equipment should be utilized at all times. This includes using items such as a safety harness, nets and guardrails depending on the particular job. Helmets should be worn on any job. They help to protect from not only falls, but also any debris that may fall from the roof.
Other Safety Considerations
In addition to fall considerations, a roofer must also take into consideration a variety of other safety issues whenever they are on the job. Two of the main sources of additional dangers come from electricity and the tools of the trade. Mishaps involving power tools and other equipment can occur in the blink of an eye, and be serious. The same goes for electrical safety. Whenever a ladder is placed too close to a charged electrical line, or there is damage to extension cords or other electrical equipment, arcing or electrical shock can happen in a heartbeat. For this reason, the most important thing that your roofer can do when on the job is be fully aware of their surroundings. With careful diligence, solid roofing safety practices and a mindful eye, they can avoid nearly all accidents.
As a home owner, when you hire a roofing contractor, make sure they are complying with the rules regarding fall protection and roofing safety that is required by law otherwise you could find yourself with a roofing project on hold while the contractor becomes compliant.