Safety First!


safety first…….and safety last.

From start to finish on any roofing project,there is no more important aspect to the process than making sure that everyone who heads up onto the roof is coming back down the same way they got up….perhaps a lot more tired and hopefully much more wise;)

Every roof presents its own set of inherent hazards and not just the fall hazard everyone and their dog knows about.The roof is a busy place with active’ athletic(more or less) workers often moving at a brisk pace in an environment that is often dusty,cluttered,hot and noisy.

Please note this article is intended for information purposes only and is not intended to replace any local,municipal or federal occupational health and safety guidelines. I draw upon 28 years of hands-on roofing experience and wish to share some practical information about roof safety from an inside point of view.


Roof Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility

As an employer you must ensure the Health and Safety of those directly employed by you. You must ensure workers are aware of their duties and responsibilities insofar as how they are regulated by your local Codes and Regulations.You must assess work sites for potential and/or existing hazards before work begins.

The employer will be involved with the employee in the identification of safety hazards and measures will then be take to eliminate or control identified hazards.

The most important thing you as an employer can do for your workers to keep them safe on the roof site is to ensure their proper education. Take the time to spend the money to have them certified in fall protection. Make sure you have at least one worker with a first aid certification for every three workers on each work site and provide them with proper well stocked first aid kids. Better yet, create a team safety environment and put all your employees through a basic first aid certification. Your local Worker’s Compensation Board will be able to provide you as the employer with their recommendations on implementing a comprehensive program tailored to the specifics of your company’safety needs.The upfront cost of making sure you have good safety program in place before the fact will save you immensely in any costs after the fact.

Roof Specific Safety Items

Working on any roof has inherent hazards and dangers. Learn to identify these to minimize the risk of a worker being injured. Roof are primarily of two types:Steep Slope and Low Slope/Flat. Each roof system has different materials and installation techniques that pose different hazards specific to the system.Therefore,a worker must be trained to know and understand the differences between the two and the safety hazards associated with each.Some safety items will be shared with both Steep and Low Slope roof system while others will be specific to one or the other.

Naturally, the most common hazard associated with the roof process is a fall from height. A fall does not have to be from a great distance to produce a significant injury so certain precautions must be taken to ensure a fall does not occur and/or in the event a fall does occur that the worker is properly protected.A Fall hazard must be identified before work begins and preventative measures must be taken to reduce or eliminate this hazard. On a pitched roof, the danger is sliding off the slope. On a flat roof,the danger is more likely to be stepping into an elevator shaft opening or a skylight opening.As a general rule there is a “first man up,last man down”policy whereby one worker will ascend to the work area and install an anchor for the them self and connect to it.He/She will then install an anchor for the next worker who can then ascend to the work area and connect to this anchor point. There is one anchor per worker per roof face. Two workers can occupy the same anchor point provided they are working at 180 degree opposite roof faces which would make any forces applied to the anchor point under a fall oppose each other.

During the process of installing a new roof system there will be much activity. There will be the removal of old roof systems which require the use of a variety of roof removal tools such as pitch forks,shovels,hammers and pry bars. Power tools such as roof cutters,power sweepers,saws and blowers will also be used used. Materials will be lowered to disposal units through chutes or by hoisting equipment. These materials are heavy and may contain chemical components that are health hazards.

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