Slipping and tripping are highly common in roofing. Every year, thousands of slip-related and trip-related safety incidents occur in Canada. Especially in regions of Canada where the weather is oftentimes unpredictable, it is incredibly important for contractors and construction managers to maintain safety on-site.
Being able to move safely across a roofing site means keeping it tidy and clean, ensuring equipment is spread out in an orderly fashion, and identifying health and safety risks as they arise. By committing to these three tasks, a contractor can reduce the chance of a slip and/or trip.
Roofing site evaluation is a major component to guarding against falls. Routinely, throughout the work day, managers should be going over the site to note any new or unnoticed hazards. Any contractor who identifies a risk that has not been reported should speak with their superior immediately. Among the most common slip and trip hazards in Canada are uneven surfaces, physical obstacles, trailing cables, wet or slippery surfaces, and changes in level.
Let’s start with uneven surfaces. A fine way to combat uneven surfaces is be ensuring these are clearly designated, that there are good conditions surrounding them, and that adequate lighting denotes them. To this point, non-slip protective footwear is a necessity for anyone who is working around and/or on uneven surfaces.
Physical obstacles can also present themselves over the course of a roofing project, creating new hazards. By keeping work and storage areas organized, ensuring any materials delivered are appropriately stored and secured in a neat fashion, and keeping waste collection designated to a given area, these strategies can help minimize any obstacles one might have to face.
Then, there are trailing cables. More contractors today are moving towards cordless tools however, for some projects and some roofers, trailing cables are required. Temporary lighting cables or main-powered tool cables should be run along a higher level, ensuring clear visibility and lessening the possibility of a safety incident. Next, wet or slippery surfaces – including those covered in mud or ice – should be treated. If treatment is not possible, providing a temporary and safe cover, ensuring signage clearly denotes unsafe and slippery areas, and wearing proper footwear are all strategies that can be used.
Finally, changes in level – which are common in areas such as doorways – require safety ramps. Sometimes, and understandably, it’s not possible to install a ramp. If not, a more affordable and equally effective strategy is to use signs to clearly denote where the changes in level are.
The precise hazards for a given roofing project will vary depending on whether it is a residential or commercial roof, among other factors. An area that some might overlook outside of the working roof area is the access route, which could be stairs, corridors, footpaths, site cabins, and more. These access routes also need to be inspected for safety hazards.
As a professional roofing company in Canada, it’s important to take the time to identify and resolve hazards. It only takes a moment for someone to slip or trip, which could easily result in an injury and sometimes, even fatality. As so many slip-related injuries could be avoided with proper safety policies and procedures in place, this identifies where our industry needs to change. Beyond all else, safety must be upheld as the highest priority!