Residential roofing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the construction industry. Reports state that employees in this field are three times more likely to experience fatalities than workers in other sectors. This may be attributed to the poor traction on most roof surfaces and the height of residential properties that increase the risk of falls. Fortunately, maintaining safety is still feasible for residential roofers. If you are looking for ways to protect yourself while performing roofing work, read on for some tips on how to stay safe and some residential roofing safety equipment to consider adding to your work essentials.
Keep Your Work Area Free From Hazards
Before beginning any roofing installation, ensure that your workspace is clear of any hazardous elements. For starters, inspect your rooftop for debris that could hinder your movement. Make it a point to sweep roofs during the inspection process to expose hidden items such as nails that could otherwise cause slips. Consider covering skylights as well to avoid falling into them and where gaping holes are present, mark these open areas to avoid fall accidents.
In addition to this, use visible markers on the rooftops and ground surface to indicate any work in progress, such as roof replacement and roof repair. Where possible, consider blocking off access points such as hatches to limit any collisions with unauthorized personnel during your work. Additionally, keep your surrounding area free from unnecessary equipment intended for later work. Make it a point also only to carry what you need while keeping all equipment organized. A toolkit can, for instance, help you store all your equipment in one area, helping reduce any slip accidents.
Take Into Account the Weather
Weather conditions also play a huge role in roofing safety and will often contribute to how well you perform your work. Weather conditions such as rain and snow often come with an increased risk of falls, while high temperatures are a cause of concern due to heat exhaustion that could impair your judgment. For the best safety practices, avoid working in these extremes to ensure you are protected from any unfortunate occurrences.
Always Wear a Harness
The country’s safety requirements state that workers exposed to height conditions wear a fall arrest system, with a harness being one of the essential residential roofing safety equipment for workers. A harness will go hand in hand with items such as lanyards, roof anchors, and rope grabs, elements that will help you break a fall when working on residential roofs. Before purchasing these items, make it a point first to request a fitting. A loose harness will likely slip off during your work, while a tight one will limit your movement while on the roof, making either of these options a poor choice. Ensure that your harness fits well, with regular adjustments coming in handy as time goes by.
For the best harness picks, consider the height of the building to get the right rope flexibility. Getting fixed lanyards and retractable ones for use with your harness will also come in handy for future projects that require different roofing specifications, so make it a point to get these two options. Lanyards should be free of any damages and have a breaking strength of at least 5,000 pounds, aspects that you need to keep in mind during your purchase. In addition to this, ensure that your anchorage can also support a minimum weight of at least 5,000 pounds. Always ensure that your harness is attached to an anchor on a roof ridge for secure support during use.
Take Breaks in Shaded Areas
Roofing work often occurs during the warm months of the year, with summer months being peak seasons. Due to this, working in the heat is inevitable. Make it a point to take breaks when exposed to constant heat, ensuring that your relaxation area is shaded and away from the sun. Tents are good places to take breaks as these will help prevent you from getting heat exhaustion due to exposure to high temperatures. Make it a point also to stay hydrated if working in sunny conditions. Drinking small amounts of water is ideal and will help you recover any lost fluids during your time out. Lastly, ensure that you use sunscreen due to the constant exposure to harsh conditions while on the rooftops.
Stick to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Guidelines
The OSHA outlines some basic residential roofing safety equipment tips that a roofing company can use when undertaking roofing work and will form a crucial part of your everyday safety practices. Some of these are designed with the use of ladders in mind for roofing experts, with the most common practices being:
- Checking locks on extension ladders: Locks on extension ladders should always be engaged before using ladders for roofing work. This restricts movement while climbing to the roof, reducing any risks for falls.
- Maintaining a 3-point contact on your ladder while in use: This means ensuring that two feet and one hand are placed on the ladder or two hands and one foot for contact purposes. While doing this, ensure that your weight rests near the center of the rungs.
- Be on the lookout for power lines before moving ladders into work areas. Ensure that ladders are placed at least 10 feet from power lines to avoid getting electrocuted. In addition to this, avoid using metal ladders when working near electrical lines. A better alternative would be using fiberglass or wooden ladders, as these do not conduct electricity.
- When working in areas with risk of ladder displacement, make it a point to secure it to the ground to prevent any displacement. You can also set up barricades around it to keep passersby away from it while using it.
- Avoid using damaged ladders, and ensure that you have read all instructions on your ladder as well as the warning labels.
- Ensure your ladder is free of any slippery material on the steps or feet.
- Avoid placing your ladder on unstable bases for additional height.
- Avoid using your ladder on sloping surfaces. If using it on uneven surfaces, ensure that it is secured at the top and bottom.
- Do not leave ladders unattended.
- Avoid using the top of a ladder as a step unless instructed otherwise.
Handle Your Roofing Materials Responsibly
When moving roofing material up and down on ladders, you may occasionally get tempted to carry more loads to reduce your movement. For safety purposes, avoid this as most roofing materials often pack a ton of weight on them. Carry one load at a time, even though it means taking more time to get your roofing essentials to the rooftop. For extra safety, remember to lift all weight with your legs and not your back. This prevents long-term back problems that often come with most construction jobs, helping you cut back any unnecessary medical costs. Lastly, store your roofing essentials near the roof to reduce additional movements.
Adhere To Power Tool Safety
Power tools can cause serious harm to workers when misused, a risk that gets worse when working on the roofs. If, for instance, you need to use a nail gun, avoid directing it at another worker. Ensure that you only pull the trigger when the nail gun is pressed firmly against the surface you intend to use it on. In addition to this, make it a point to disconnect the air supply immediately you are done using it.
For tools with safety mechanisms, check that these safeguards work properly before commencing on any roofing work. After you are done using your tools, remember to clean and lubricate them. Make it a point to inspect each tool for storm damage, ensuring repair or replace them when such need arises. For longevity, ensure that your equipment is also stored away safely from extreme conditions which could damage them, pausing safety risks during your work.
Consider Working with a Partner
Teamwork is often understated in numerous roofing companies, while in fact is an essential part of roofing safety. Working with a partner will allow you to take care of each other while performing your roofing assignments, with the occasional reminder to use the right residential roofing safety equipment. In case of an emergency, your partner will be your first line of defense, with the guarantee that they can reach out to you should any fall or injury result. Working with a partner also helps reduce the time spent on repair work and metal roofing installation, allowing you to reduce your company expenses in the long run.
Guardrails are another residential roofing safety equipment that you can use while working on roofs. A guardrail acts as a visible reminder of the rooftop’s extent while also serving as a barrier to prevent any falls from happening. Consider requesting guardrails during your next roofing operation to protect you from any falls.
Wear Appropriate Work Wear
Workwear can sometimes be considered an unnecessary part of residential roofing safety equipment but will be crucial in protecting you from any height and weather hazards. Some protective wear to include during your everyday roofing work include footwear, pants, sunglasses, and hats. Footwear comes in various types, with the most common being shoes that are compression resistant and puncture or impact resistant. For roofing workers, boots and shoes should have the proper tread and rubber soles. These prevent any falls from happening, as they will often be slip-resistant with the appropriate traction also helping out.
Be on the Lookout for Extension Cords and Ropes
Dangling ropes and cords account for most trips in the construction industry, making them another hazard for roof workers. Harnesses are mainly a cause of concern when working at height since most will often be mobile due to worker’s movement on the roofs. To avoid tripping on these, tuck them away safely based on their recommended guideline to ensure that they do not obstruct your path while installing new roofs. Equipment cords also fall under this category, so make it a point to adhere to the instruction manuals on your residential roofing safety equipment while working with them.
Use a Fall Restraint System
While a fall arrest system helps stop a fall after it is already underway, a fall restraint system is designed to keep a commercial roofer from getting near the roof’s edge. Fall restraint systems will limit your movement to specific areas of the roof, preventing any need for a fall arrest system. Some equipment to consider using for this includes anchors, lifelines, and tracks. However, keep in mind that fall arrest systems are still essential while using restraint mechanisms as residential roofing safety equipment.
Get the Proper Training
Wearing the right residential roofing safety equipment may keep you safe when hazards occur, but training will be crucial in helping you understand when to use the protective gear and how to wear them. Whether you are a certified roofing expert or have recently enrolled to work in this field, make it a point to train roofing safety practices and get refresher courses in this area. In addition to helping you stay protected, it will also come in handy in helping you stay in the know of new regulations and any changes in roofing practices.
Get an Insurance Cover
Due to constant exposure to risky conditions, it is always ideal for getting coverage for emergencies. An insurance cover will protect you when you get injuries during your roofing projects, providing you with compensation for your medical expenses. Some of the best coverage options to consider getting include medical coverage and liability coverage, with the latter protecting you in instances when you accidentally injure a fellow worker. It also pays to hire a workers compensation lawyer for consultation, as they will also come in handy in helping you navigate any compensation claims in future endeavors.
No matter your experience or certification, using the above residential roofing safety equipment tips will help you minimize any work-related injuries. Consider practicing these daily to shield yourself from any unfortunate events while also providing a safe environment for other workers.by