A solid and reliable roof is one of the most crucial parts of having a safe building. Regular maintenance and repairs are an important part of keeping it in proper working order. However, if workers are not careful when performing repairs, serious bodily injury can occur. For safety when working on a roof, it is a good idea to know how to identify any fall warning signs that could pose a hazard. Continue reading to learn more about common roof fall hazards and how to properly correct them for safe and effective repairs.
What to be on the lookout for while working on a roof
The first step to preventing roof falls is understanding the common hazards that result in such accidents. By learning how to spot potential dangers when working on any roof, workers can help keep themselves and other members of their teams safe. Evaluating a roof that needs maintenance or repairs should always be done before any work. When beginning any roofing project, remember to go over these key cautionary points.
Learn the stability of the roof
An unstable roof is a recipe for disaster. Always check the roof in question for its structural integrity. Will it sufficiently hold the weight of workers and equipment without falling through? Are all of the important parts, such as tresses, fully intact? Every roof should be checked more than once for signs of weakness and instability before workers begin any kind of repairs.
Acknowledge roof holes
Whether it is a skylight that has not yet been covered or there are damaged areas, holes in a roof pose serious fall hazards. Awareness of any holes and hatches can prevent workers from falling through, resulting in serious injury. Taking the proper steps to learn of roof holes can be done easily and prevent any life-threatening accidents.
Examine the roof pitch
Not all roofs sit at the same pitch or angle. For safety, workers must be aware of the steepness of every roof. A roof with a low pitch that is less angled and more flat will pose less of a falling risk than a roof with a steep pitch. Workers should always carefully check roof materials, especially on steep pitches, to ensure that they are properly secured to prevent slipping. It is also important to figure out the safest ways to manage split-level roofing.
Consider weather conditions
Weather can seriously impact the safety of any roofing project. Various surfaces, especially membranes, become very slippery when covered in snow, ice, and rain. Not only that, but heavy snowfall adds extra weight to a roof that may already have structural issues. Workers should always consider the weather to decide whether or not it is actually safe to carry out roofing work without fall hazards being a concern. Extreme temperatures should also be considered to prevent health issues as well as construction issues.
Know the Line of sight
Many things on a roof can impede the continuous line of sight while working. Workers must learn how to safely navigate around ridge vents, chimneys, equipment, supplies, and even other workers. It is critical to always maintain a good line of sight while moving around on any roof to reduce the risk of falling or knocking another worker down.
Awareness of the Edge
Not only can it be easy for structures, supplies, and workers to impede line of sight, but they can also disorient workers so that they lose the edge of the roof. Maintaining caution and awareness of the roof edge at all times is pivotal to not accidentally stepping too close and falling off. This is also important when moving around other workers to ensure collisions do not happen that could send someone falling over the edge.
One of the biggest tripping hazards while working on a roofing project is debris. Anything from tools to tree branches can pose a major risk of tripping and falling. Workers should always ensure that their work space is clear of anything that could catch their footing and cause a roof fall.
Proper training and equipment usage
If a worker does not have the proper training for roofing projects, the consequences could be fatal. All workers who are assigned to roofing maintenance and repairs should have the proper training and experience with all safety elements. Proper understanding of safety equipment and how to use it is also an absolute necessity for keeping workers and the rest of their team from becoming victims of roof fall hazards.
What are the common warning signs?
There are common warning signs that all workers can learn to recognize to prevent a roof fall. Workers who know what to look for regarding red flags when beginning any roofing project will not only help keep themselves safe but also other workers around them. Certain warnings should not be ignored and should be addressed immediately. Roof fall hazards can be prevented by identifying and addressing these typical warning signs that pose serious risks of bodily injury.
Lack of safe access points
It is important to consider the safety of how all workers gain access to a roof. The most common ways of getting on a roof to perform maintenance or repairs are via a roof hatch, walk-out doors, and the use of exterior stairs or ladders. Careful evaluation of each should be done to check for any of the following hazards.
When setting up exterior ladders, there are certain steps to take to be extra cautious. The feet should always be stable and the top of the ladder should always be secured to the roof whenever it is possible. Permanently attached ladders should always be rust-free and in good condition.
Workers should always take caution when entering a roof via a hatch. There is always the chance that a hatch could be too close to the roof’s edge. Extreme caution should be used to prevent falling upon stepping out of a hatch, as well as falling back into the hatch once it is open.
Hatches, ladders and trim around walk-out doors can all come with tripping hazards. Roof workers should always be careful to not get caught up when trying to gain access to the roof.
Open rooftop edges
Rooftop edges pose an obvious fall hazard. However, there are important things to consider that can make some rooftops more of a hazard than others. Not all rooftops are made the same and knowing how to properly identify potentially dangerous edges can ensure worker safety. Rooftops that do not have railings or roof guardrails around the perimeters should be worked on with the utmost caution.
Unsafe walking paths
Any work done on a roof should be done with the availability of a clear and safe walking path. Direct paths from one side of the roof to the other are not always the safest. Workers must be aware of any obstacles in place, such as pipes, varying roof heights, and roof vents. Certain features such as skylights, hatches, and smoke vents should have guards around them to prevent anyone from falling in. Damaged or weakened areas on a roof should also be clearly indicated and approached with caution.
Less-than-perfect lighting and weather
As previously mentioned, weather makes a big impact on the safety of rooftop projects. Precipitation can make rooftops extremely slick and pose a serious fall hazard. Any time the weather is less than ideal, the work should be postponed until more appropriate conditions arrive. Workers should also always be sure they can see clearly with proper lighting. Dim lighting can cause the loss of a roof edge, tripping over objects, and other roof fall hazards.
What you can do about them
Although there are an abundance of fall warnings signs on the roof to watch out for, there are things that workers can do to properly address them. With proper understanding, workers can learn how to fix roof fall hazards to make any roofing project a safe experience. Every worker is responsible for not only the safety of themselves but also for cultivating a safe work space for other members of their team. Taking simple yet important steps to identifying common fall hazards can help prevent serious injuries.
Clear debris and contaminants from work areas
There are numerous kinds of debris that can cause a slippery surface for a tripping hazard. All debris should be cleared from a roofing project including water, dead foliage, oils, dust, and plastic. Loose or raised membrane should be addressed. Tools and equipment should also be organized and maintained in a manner that will not pose a risk of tripping and falling. Workers should always take caution to properly position cords, ropes, and safety harnesses so they do not hinder movement.
Demarcate hazardous perimeters
If there are hazardous areas, such as hatches and skylights without rails or roof edges without roofing guardrails, demarcating can be one of the most important steps to take. Workers should always indicate these areas with clearly visible markers that will designate them as a hazardous space. Workers should pay attention to all demarcated areas and use extra caution when working around them. Signage is also important around the work area along with demarcations to draw attention to potential hazards.
Ensure proper lighting at all times
Stairways, ladders, and walkways may be dimly lit, even during daylight hours. Workers should always take care to ensure that there is an ample amount of lighting to easily see to walk around and ascend and descend stairs or ladders. Proper lighting will also help to see demarcations, which flag hazardous areas on the roof, and easily see objects such as chimneys and more.
Double-check ladder and platform stability
All ladders should be properly secured and safe for use. Workers should always examine ladders to ensure that they are in proper working order. There should be no rust or anything else that would require them to have repairs or replacements. If this is the case, a different ladder or a lift to gain access to the roof should be used to avoid fatal accidents or serious injuries. Additionally, all scaffolds and platforms should be checked for malfunctions that could pose a safety risk.
Prevent the risk of falling objects
When working from scaffolds or other platforms, it can be easy to accidentally knock something off the raised work area and fall to landings below. This can cause injury to other workers below. Designating certain areas for keeping tools and supplies will prevent the scattering of objects that could easily be knocked onto other workers.
Make a plan for safe roof work
Every roofing project should have a plan designed to determine the tasks that need to be accomplished. Evaluating the potential fall hazards on the roof and implementing steps to prevent falls is crucial. It is also ideal for deciding which PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) will be needed to keep all workers safe. Quick yet informative meetings with all team members on the project are also a good idea to remind everyone of the hazards that are around and to help prevent accidents.
Wear appropriate Personal Protection Equipment
Workers should always wear the appropriate attire and equipment when working on roofing projects. Proper footwear with traction, hard helmets, gloves, wet weather gear and fall protection harnesses all play a vital role in the safety of workers to prevent common roof fall hazards. It is important that all equipment is checked regularly to ensure that everything is in good condition and will work accordingly and without posing any risk.
Obtain training and education
A great deal of common roof hazards can be avoided with necessary training of workers. Educating workers on general roof hazards and how to identify them as well as the requirements of fall protection standards is key to safety. It is also ideal for workers to understand how to properly erect, maintain, disassemble, inspect and use fall protection systems. This is crucial to maintaining safety equipment that will perform as it should and reduce the risks of roof falls. Workers should also know the proper method for reporting fall protection issues they may discover.
Retraining should never be discarded, especially when there are changes in safety procedures or protection equipment. It never hurts to have a refresher course if training has not been done for quite some time to reinforce proper methods.
FixFast USA is your trusted company for roofing safety
Established in 1975, FixFast USA has been working hard to ensure workers get home to their families safely. We believe that every worker should have access to the safest industrial roof systems available. That is why FixFast USA provides a wide range of safety systems specifically designed with working from heights in mind, including:
- KATTCLIMB Fixed Ladder Systems
- KATTGUARD Roof Guardrail Systems
- KATTGUARD Roof Hatch Systems
- KATTCONNECT Anchor Points and Lifelines
- KOMBI Modular Access Systems
All of our products are compliant with OSHA regulations and eliminate the many hazards that come with working from high places. From guardrails to safety harnesses and everything between, you can trust us at FixFast USA to keep you safe while you get the job done.
Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are here to serve you and provide you with the best protection equipment solutions. Contact us with any questions or inquiries about our products today.