According to provincial law, any roofing work needs to be carefully organized and planned as to ensure the safety of those involved. Despite this being the law, thousands of slip and trip safety-related incidents happen every year in roofing.
Most recently, a roofing company in Ontario was fined $55,000 after one of its contractors fell through a roof opening – an incident that could have been avoided if the proper safety checks and procedures had been upheld. Regarding this particular incident, a skylight was removed on this roofing project, leaving this opening exposed with no guardrail system around the opening and no protective covering over the opening.
Today, we want to talk about the different areas in roofing prone to safety hazards. Any contractor who works at heights knows how dangerous the job can be. Precautions need to be taken. Even highly trained, competent, and experienced roofing contractors face the same safety hazards as less experienced roofers. Be it in residential or commercial roofing, the top three areas that commonly present safety hazards are access points, roof edges and openings, and fragile surfaces.
Discussing access points, there are numerous different ways to access a roof. At times, these could include access scaffolds, stair towers, fixed scaffold towers, mobile access technology and equipment, ladders, and access hatches. As roofing work progresses along the roof, one wants to be aware of their access points. In addition, inspection of safe access is necessary. With so much attention being paid to a roofing site, remember to inspect access points for any possible slip, trip, or injury dangers.
As it pertains to roof edges and openings, a roofing contractor will run into these hazards on every project. The majority of the deaths that occur in roofing in Canada come from incidents involving roof edges and openings. Sloping roofs in particular are hazardous, to this point. They require some form of scaffolding to prevent contractors and their equipment from slipping down and off the edge. Edge protection should also be carefully placed along the eaves of any roof. Terraces properties may require edge protection to the rear and front as well. For flat roofs, edges still require some form of protection arrangement, which can be a double guardrail or a simple toe-board.
The third roofing area prone to hazards are fragile surfaces. As a roofing contractor, if you are working on or near fragile roof surfaces, a mix of safety accessories and setups may be required. These include fall restraint, fall arrest, safety nets, and guard rails.
Depending on the size and scope of a roofing project, some of the hazards mentioned in this article may be less or more prevalent. An experienced roofing manager should be able to identify the areas in need of address and follow through with the needed procedures to mitigate risks.
Roofing safety as a top priority protects workers from injury and companies from the legal consequences of a safety incident happening on their watch. Every month, there are new cases of roofing contractors being penalized by provincial governments for failing to protect their workers.
Any professional roofing contractor hired for residential or commercial roofing should be committed to upholding the highest standards of employee safety and ensure fall protection as a primary focus, in maximizing safety on-site.