Slipping is easily the #1 hazard when it comes to roofing. Being able to move around safely is not always possible, opening up the potential for a fall. Even in clean and orderly conditions, an unseen hazard may be lurking and bad weather conditions only serve to make it worse.
To reduce slips and falls in roofing, hazards need to be identified, sorted and reported. Thousands of construction workers, contractors and roofers are injured every year by slipping or tripping on the job site. This is how to ensure that isn’t you or anyone on your crew.
Slipping hazards can be effectively managed, if those overseeing the job site know what they’re looking for. To start with, involving the entire work crew and encouraging anyone to come forward if they identify a possible safety risk is important. That way, everyone can take some responsibility in keeping the roofing site tidy.
Among the first things you want to identify are any uneven surfaces. Yes, we realize roofing is a little tricky because, unlike regular construction, most of the work is done on uneven surfaces. To successfully manage these uneven surfaces in roofing, proper lighting is required and ensuring workers are equipped with the necessary non-slip footwear is also key.
The second thing you want to identify with a roofing site are obstacles. That is, anything a worker could see their clothing snagged on, or anything that could accidentally be tripped over. Depending on the roof, there may be several obstacles from the get-go. Throughout the course of the job, more may become present as workers leave tools and equipment in unsafe configurations, materials on-site are moved around and waste collection is ongoing. Safety evaluations for obstacles should happen several times over the course of the day, to mitigate these risks.
The third component of how to protect against slipping in a roofing environment – and arguably, the most important – is the identification of wet or slippery surfaces. Across the northern United States and Canada, roofing contractors are trained to work in some tough weather conditions. At times, this may mean having navigated around snow and ice, in addition to working with slippery stone and other materials which could result in a slip and fall. At all costs, avoid stepping on slippery surfaces. Though you may feel confident that a slip and fall will not occur, you don’t want to be wrong. Also, any slippery areas identified should be communicated to the team members around you and, as stated earlier, footwear that is non-slip and with a good grip is required to function in these type of roofing environments.
Just because one is high off the ground does not necessarily mean that it has to be an unsafe work environment. Roofing is a very rewarding field of work. Performing the job safely is a necessity. No one wants to be responsible for someone else slipping and falling, or themselves experiencing an injury that could easily have been avoided. Take the time to evaluate the roofing environment for safety hazards and prepare appropriately for the conditions in which work is being completed.