Spring signals that it’s time for a new start. So after the ice melts, what can you do to renew the safety of crews inspecting a roof or working on rooftop systems? A good idea is to check for debris left over from snow, ice and gusty winds. And why not use this time to review safety policies, conduct a company-wide refresher on rooftop safety, and make sure that your workers and job sites are well equipped.
One main priority would be to reinforce policies designed to prevent the slips and trips that cause rooftop workers to lose their balance. Not only can workers get injured on the rooftop itself, but there’s always the scenario that we all dread—falling off the roof to the ground. Consider that one-third of all fall-related fatalities in the construction industry overall are caused by falls from rooftops.
Here are top eight items that should be on your safety checklist—and the list of supervisors and work crews:
- Use Personal Fall Protection: Ensure that personal fall protection equipment is available and accessible at all sites, that everyone is training in using them, and that wearing them is mandatory for any rooftop work.
- Comply with all OSHA Fall Protection Guidelines: Check that you have guardrails, skylight cages, safety nets and other protective equipment as required by OSHA regulations—or face stiff penalties, lawsuits and, most importantly, injury or even death.
- Remove obstacles. This should be a no-brainer, but it’s easy to put down your tools for a minute and forget to pick them up again. The same goes for plastic tubs, cables and other supplies. Rooftop clutter is definitely not your friend. Keep your work areas and walkways obstacle-free at all times.
- Require Proper Footwear: If your policies do not require that workers wear safety shoes, with steel toes if working at heights, it’s a good idea to add it. Shoes with good gripping ability can prevent falls, especially if kept free from mud and grease—and, of course, kept tied.
- Clean Rooftop Surfaces: Even good work shoes can lose their grip when stepping on leaves, plastic, water, and other contaminants. Encourage workers to clean up spills immediately rather than leave them until later.
- Use Proper Lighting: You may not notice poorly lit areas, but the dimmer lighting conditions in walkways and around stairs and ladders can lead to accident. While checking for obstacles and clearing surfaces, determine if all light works or if any work areas might be safer by being better lit.
- Ensure Flat, Secure Surfaces: Uneven or loose flooring can spell big trouble. Roofing crews should check that all materials are lying flat, plus anchor any additional mats to avoid buckling, sliding, or otherwise becoming an obstacle.
As you gear up for spring, start by reviewing your safety policies and equipment. Make sure that your workers understand your policies, abide by them and understand that their safety is your #1 concern. If it’s time for you springtime rooftop cleaning, contact General Safety Services for expert advice, equipment and services.