Rooftop falls are the main cause of death in the construction industry. Roofers experience hazards on the job, and these are often associated with heights, extreme weather conditions, and improper use of safety gear. The employer or building contractor is tasked with creating a safe working environment for his workers, but it is your responsibility to ensure your safety and health and that of your fellow workers. Getting acquainted with these potential hazards will help you remain safe.
1. Inappropriate Use of Safety Gear and Equipment
Roof safety gear plays a significant role in keeping you safe from rooftop hazards. The benefits, however, are only achieved when the equipment is used appropriately. The most common mistake made when using safety equipment involves using a long lanyard, making a weak tie off, or using a poorly anchored railing.
2. Be Mindful of the Edge of the Roof
Even experienced roofers lose track of their position on the roof when they get too engrossed in the project. They may step too close to the edge, causing them to fall. Checking your location regularly and that of other workers while on the job is imperative.
3. Lack of Proper Training
Workers who are not properly trained are a rooftop safety hazard to themselves and their colleagues. Training enlightens you about staying safe while working on a roof, how to wear safety gear correctly, and how to ensure the safety of other workers.
4. Roof Instability and Holes in the Roof
An unstable roof poses a safety hazard to you and other workers. It is important to check its stability before climbing up. Verify if the trusses are intact, whether it can support the weight of one person, and if the roof bows on a hot day. Also, be sure to check for holes and skylights that have not been covered as they can also lead to serious injuries.
5. Weather Conditions
Roof shingles get slippery when it is raining, snowing, or windy, making falls pretty easy. Snow adds extra weight to the roof, so you should always postpone the work until the weather conditions improve.
6. Ladder Safety
Most roof accidents occur because the ladder is placed incorrectly. For any roofing job, the ladder should be placed six inches from the wall, with the steps installed at regular intervals. You should also check if the ladder has a safety cage, if it has a height of more than 16.5 feet, and a rest platform if it is more than 29.5 feet long. Also, ensure the ladder is securely installed at an angle of 4:1. before stepping on to it. For more on ladder safety, click here.
7. Access to Rooftop Equipment
The equipment required for the roof project should be accessible with non-slip walkway and safety guardrails. It is advisable to use permanent guardrails as they are installed close to rooftop units to reduce falls.
8. Fall Heights and Split Level Roofs
Split level roofing creates more rooftop hazards being the highest point of the roof that is far off the ground. As such, workers with split levels and low slope roofs are around unprotected edges and sides that are 6.5 feet above the necessary levels, Therefore, they should have the appropriate fall protection equipment at all times.
9. The Roof Pitch
It is another rooftop area that poses a safety hazard. Houses with steeper pitches are more likely to cause falls than those with flat roofs. Falling shingles also pose a greater danger on a sloping roof, hence the need to ensure that the shingle bundles are secured properly.
10. Poor Line of Sight
Things like ridge vents and chimneys can block your line of sight when working on a rooftop. Maintaining a clear line of sight is imperative so that you will know your location in relation to the edge of the roof and can avoid potential hazards.
You are now aware of the safety hazards of working on a rooftop and how to avoid them. Keep in mind that wearing the right protective equipment is one aspect of rooftop safety; using it appropriately is what keeps you safe. If an accident occurs and there is a problem with the safety gear, the employer is also held liable for the accident. Additionally, if you are not sure about how to use any of the safety equipment provided, always ask your employer for additional training before you step on the roof.