Safety Tips for Working on a Roof
Did you know that rooftop falls are responsible for a third of fatal construction falls? Rooftop falls can be a “perfect storm” when it comes to falling hazards, because oftentimes they are from a height high enough to cause serious injury, but low enough that you have little time to react or re-position yourself.
Rooftop falls happen too often, and when they do, they are incredibly dangerous. But the good news is, rooftop falls are easily avoided with proper understanding of hazards and how to combat them.
4 Most Common Rooftop Hazards
Canada’s Occupational Health & Safety Magazine defines the following as the most common hazards you will face when working on a rooftop.
1. Unsecured Access Points
Did you know that many rooftop accidents and injuries don’t occur on the rooftop at all, but happen while accessing it? Proper training on ladder and climbing safety is an extremely important part of rooftop safety. Accidents can happen on the way up and on the way down, so always make sure you’re properly secured and taking the right steps, even when the day is over and you’re excited to get down and head home. And remember, ALWAYS ensure your equipment used to access the roof is properly stabilized and the roof itself is inspected and safe.
2. Roof Construction and Equipment
The roof itself and how it is built can also present a hazard. Things like pipes and vents installed on the roof can be tripping hazards or may stang your gear or tools. Roofs may also have variable heights, soft spots, cracks or loose material that can cause you to lose your footing. Because of this, it’s extremely important to always be aware of your surroundings when working on a roof. A helpful tip is to always make sure your footing is firm before actually shifting your weight – Take the time you need to slowly and safely travel while on a rooftop.
3. Obstructed Views and Poor Edge Awareness
When working on a rooftop, always keep the edge location in the back of your mind. Try to avoid the edge being out of your line of vision as much as possible, and when working in areas that block your view of the edge, be aware and proceed with extra caution. If you’re working in a darker environment, proper lighting must be used to provide a brightly lit workspace. Far too often workers approach the edge without realizing or assume the edge is much farther away than it actually is – Even if you think you have more then enough space, it can creep up on you faster then you think!
4. Structural failure
As we mentioned in #1, it’s important that rooftops be inspected before workers access it, but unfortunately, this doesn’t always eliminate all of the risk. Damage to a roof may not always be obvious, and sometimes you’re the guy being called in to fix the damage, so you can’t avoid it. The best way to keep yourself safe in these situations is to test the strength of the roof before you progress. All rooftop workers should receive training on what to do if they feel the roof begins to fail beneath them. If you question the strength or structural integrity of the roof at all, do not proceed.
But That’s Not All…
By keeping these hazards in mind and doing everything you can to combat them, many rooftop injuries can be avoided. But of course, preventing fall hazards is only one aspect of protecting yourself and your employees. Proper fall protection gear is the other very large aspect of rooftop safety. Fall protection is necessary because no matter how careful you are, accidents can ALWAYS happen, and when they do, your fall protection gear will reduce the amount of damage that will occur, should a fall happen.
If you’re working at a height exceeding 3 meters (10 feet) occupational health and safety laws generally require fall protection measures to be in place. You can check with your jurisdiction as requirements do vary, but in most cases fall protection measures are required. That’s where things like roofers kits and other fall protection equipment come into play. Roofers kits are a great tool for general fall protection while working on a roof, because it provides you with everything you need to safely secure yourself. But, Hercules SLR offers a wide range of fall protection equipment and our experts would be happy to set you up with the right equipment based on your needs – All it takes is a quick phone call or email!
Check out this video for a quick reminder on how to secure yourself to a roof:
No amount of safety tips will ever replace proper training! The Hercules Training Academy offers a Fall Protection course that provides students with the fundamental knowledge of working at heights safely. This program meets and exceeds the local regulations, industry standards, and the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Get in contact now to bring your safety to the next level while working on a roof (or at any height!)
- Hazard assessments
- Pre-use inspections
- Calculating fall distance
- Donning a harness
- Selecting fall protection equipment
- Fall protection plans and procedures
- Selecting anchor points
- Elevated Work Platforms
- Suspension trauma
The program is a combination of theory and demonstration. Students are evaluated by means of a written test. Upon successful completion of the program, a certificate will be issued.
Training is delivered at the Hercules Training Academy or can also be delivered on-site.