When working on rooftops, safety should be everyone’s number one priority. There are, unfortunately, many different hazards that can be present on rooftop environments. This article goes into the top 10 common hazards to note before stepping foot onto a rooftop.
- Roof Stability. It is important to make sure the roof is strong enough to support both the weight of the workers and their equipment. Checking to ensure the trusses are intact and the roof’s underlay is stable are important steps to take before stepping foot onto a roof. One should also take extra precautions when stepping onto a roof after a storm as there could be unexpected damage.
- Current Weather Conditions. It’s important to keep in mind the current weather conditions as well. Ice, snow and wind are all things that can create unexpected hazards on a roof. Roof membranes are especially prone to becoming slippery in these weather conditions. Also on particularly sunny days be sure to wear sunglasses to prevent sun blindness.
- Roof Holes, Such as Skylights. Review the roof plan before stepping onto a rooftop to understand where any holes, such as skylights, are located. Accidentally stepping on or into a hole could have deadly consequences, which is why building owners should consider installing skylight guardrails to ensure the safety of maintenance workers.
- Roof Edge Awareness. It is important to always keep an eye on the location of the roof edge. Sometimes people become so engaged in their work that they lose sight of the roof edge, which can have some shocking consequences. To mitigate this risk, either install a rooftop guardrail or a warning line system to make it easy for maintenance workers to notice the roof edge.
- Improper Use of Fall Protection Equipment. FPE is not there to look nice or for liability reasons, but for YOUR safety. Ensuring your equipment is up to date and properly maintained should be one of your top priorities. It could be the difference between an ordinary workday or one that ends in pain. Ensure your railings are properly anchored, make sure your lanyards are the proper length and ensure that your tie-off points are strong.
- Roof Pitch. The steeper the roof, the easier it is to slip and fall. Make sure you have the proper fall protection in place to ensure maintenance worker safety. Restraint anchors should be one of your top priorities to install to ensure maintenance worker safety.
- Ladder Placement. Before using any fixed access ladder check to make sure it’s safe. A fixed access ladder should have its feet secured at the bottom, either to the wall or ground, and the top should be secured to the roof (if it is practical). Annual fixed access ladder inspections can help to ensure your fixed access ladder is always safe.
- Split Level Roofs and Parapet Walls. These can be especially dangerous and should be treated with extra caution as more often than not a safety system is not in place to reach the second level, which has minimal roof edge safety precautions in place. Consider installing a RoofStep if you have regular maintenance workers accessing your rooftop.
- Roof Construction and Equipment. You need to be constantly aware of hazards around you when you are on a rooftop. Equipment such as pipes and vents can become a serious trip hazard or snag on your gear. Roofs in disrepair could also have soft spots, cracks and loose material making it difficult to find stable footing.
- Roof Structural Failure. At times, a roof can simply fail. This is a prominent issue if the worker needs to assess the roof to make repairs to it. To avoid injury or falling off the roof should it fail, workers should access the roof’s strength before stepping on it and should be trained on what to do in the event of a roof failure.
Rooftop safety should be the number one priority for anyone who has to regularly access rooftop environments and for companies that have people who perform rooftop job functions. Our fall prevention experts can work with you to develop an action plan to help keep your employees and those visiting your facility safe.