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Worker safety is important in any construction job. Roofing is no exception. Falls are the cause of more serious injuries and deaths in construction than all other causes. Accidents occur not only to roofers, but also to maintenance, cleaning, demolition, and roof inspection personnel. Any work on a roof carries risks. The nature of the precautions needed to work safely vary from job to job, but it is not acceptable not to provide guards.

There are several factors that contribute to avoidable accidents while working on roofs.

Roof slope – the steeper the roof, the harder it is to stand on it.
Humidity – rain, snow or frost can cause slippery conditions on the roof.
Dirt or sawdust – can cause slippery roof conditions.
Shoes – traction offered by shoes or boots varies, always wear shoes or boots with good traction.
Tripping hazards – tools, electric cords, etc., can be a tripping hazard.
Considerations for roof work

worker on roof putting shingles down

 

Carry out a risk analysis – identify the risks that will be encountered before carrying out the specific tasks required on the site.
Getting on and off the roof – this is an important risk point, it is essential to have a safe way to get on and off the roof.
Fall Prevention System – A fall prevention system is required if a worker can fall from an elevated position. As a general rule, a fall prevention system should be used if the height of the work is greater than six feet. (See the safety topic “Fall Protection” for more information.)
Falling materials – keep the roof tidy and clean to remove any material that may fall.
Training – people working on roofs need the knowledge, skills and experience to work safely.
Weather conditions – do not work under icy, rainy or windy conditions. You can easily fall off the roof while transporting roofing materials.
Ladders and scaffolds – make sure they are in good structural condition and properly installed. If you have any questions, contact your supervisor.
Fragile Roofs – A fragile roof is one that does not safely support a person’s weight. The fragility of the roof does not depend on the composition of its materials. The fragility of the roof can be caused by the thickness of the material, the distance between its supports or the age of the material. Roof brittleness must be determined before work begins.

Slate or shingle roofs – Slate and shingles do not provide a safe surface to stand on, especially when wet. Properly designed roof ladders or kneeling boards must be installed to work safely on these types of roofs.

Torch-armed roofs – Operations on torch-armed roofs can be dangerous. Workers can be seriously burned by the torch or asphalt being applied. In addition, temperatures generated during torch use can start fires where they are not seen, which sprout at full power later. Take all appropriate precautions to prevent fires when doing this type of work.

Welding of Thermoplastic Roofing Membranes – Systems used to perform this type of work use electricity to heat the membranes together by heat. Burns and electrocution are potential hazards with this type of equipment.

Safe Working Practices

Keep your center of gravity low and on your feet.
Keep your knees bent and be aware of everything around you.
Don’t carry too much load or have too full hands.
Do not drop objects or allow them to roll until they fall from the ceiling.
Get on and off the stairs facing the stairs.

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