Roof work exposes workers to hazards of falling from heights. However, with proper fall protection and complying with OSHA roof protection guidelines, the number of serious falls can be reduced substantially. In this write-up, we have highlighted some major hazards workers face during roof work and practical methods to protect workers.
What are the risks involved in roof work?
Permanent injury and in some cases even death are common risks involved during roof work. Even experienced roof workers are exposed to unpredictable fall hazards due to multiple reasons, like uneven sheathing, bad weather, windy weather, slippery roof surface, loose roofing materials, etc.
The only measure to save lives is to reduce the risks through fall protection measures. According to OSHA roof safety guidelines, the employers must provide a training program to each worker exposed to fall hazards. The program must enable every roof workers to identify the hazards of roof fall. In addition, the program should also enable each worker to follow the procedures to minimize these hazards.
Using a personal fall arrest system (PFAS)
As per OSHA guidelines, employers must provide personal fall arrest system in caseworkers are exposed to a roof fall of 6 feet or more. Fall arrest system is a form of fall protection which if used properly arrests a fall and prevents the worker from contacting a lower level. A PFAS consists of a harness, a lifeline, anchor, and lanyard. Body belts are not accepted in a PFAS as they may cause serious injury during a fall. Besides, an anchorage for a fall arrest system should be capable of supporting 5,000 pounds per worker. It should be designed, installed and installed under the supervision of a qualified person as a part of a full-fledged personal fall arrest system that maintains a safety factor for at least two persons.
Rescue of workers
Employers should also have a plan for rescuing workers in an unfortunate event of a fall along with a fall arrest system. A personal fall arrest system can save lives, but a medical emergency can develop if a fallen worker is not rescued quickly. Therefore, before starting the roof work, the availability of rescue personnel, ladders, and other equipment should be ensured. Employers must ensure that supervisors and workers are trained on how to rescue the fallen worker safely and prevent the further injury.
These are some of the roof safety measures directed by OSHA. If implemented effectively, they do help in reducing the number of falls.