Roofing Safety Essentials: What You Need To Know To Protect Your Team, And Your Liability

roofers working with safety equipment on

There are several steps that should be taken prior to commencing any roofing project that every contractor should put in place. Safety training, combined with adequate safeguards, identification of site specific hazards, planning around any identified hazards, inspection of equipment and the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) will all ensure that the workers on your roof, and occupants within the building in question, are kept as safe as possible.

Health And Safety Considerations And Preventions For Roofing Operations

Working at Heights:

According to the IHSA, roofing at heights is defined as “any work where a person could fall a distance and be injured.” No matter if you are working on a building that is thirty stories high, or a residential roof that is less than thirty feet off of the ground, it is important that your workers are equipped with the proper education and equipment to protect them from falls.

Proper Safety Training:

Proper safety training is your biggest asset when striving to ensure the safety of your roofing team. All workers should be trained on the safe use of access equipment including ladders, scaffolds, work platforms, and power elevating work platforms. Some examples of the kinds of training our team does are:

  • Fall protection
  • Material handling
  • Ladder Safety
  • Ladder Setup
  • Heat Stress

Identifying Specific Project-Related Hazards: 

Each roofing project that your team undertakes will of course be different, with different safety considerations.

Establishing Written Emergency Procedures 

Before beginning every project, it’s crucial to establish a written emergency procedure. Even though our team is made up of experienced professionals, the materials we are working with, and the roofs we are repairing, are still dangerous. Having a written procedure allows for our team to work quickly if anything goes wrong during a project.

Ensure Workspace Safeguards 

Workspace safeguards refer to fall protection systems that should be in place before roofing at heights work begins. This includes:

  • Guardrail systems along the edges of the workspace.
  • Safety nets, which are webbed or mesh systems suspended below a roof site to stop a falling worker.
  • Personal fall arrest systems like harnesses attached to a roof anchor by a lanyard.
  • Warning line Systems
  • Safety monitoring systems

Not all of these safeguards are necessary with every project, but according to IKO, “Anyone working at a height of six feet (1.8 meters) or greater must use at least one of these protections.”

Check Equipment Before Use

Before beginning any project, we check all of our safety and work equipment to ensure that everything is up to code and there are no damages to be concerned with. Many accidents that occur during roofing work are actually the result of faulty or broken equipment that was not checked before use.

Ensuring That Roofing Workers Wear Proper Equipment

infographic of work ppe

Having proper roofing equipment doesn’t just mean hats and goggles. In fact, the OHSA has an extensive list of safety requirements for workers, which include, but are not limited to:

  • CSA approved hard hats.
  • Shirts that are long-sleeved and buttoned.
  • Kettle operators must wear pull-over sleeves made of non-synthetic material.
  • Trousers should be cuffless, short enough to prevent tripping, yet long enough to extend over work boots.
  • Safety boots should be high-cut with CSA-approved heavy-duty toe and sole protection and tightly laced to the top to prevent the entry of hot material or debris.
  • Bitumen build-up on the soles should be removed regularly throughout the day.
  • Gloves with snug-fitting cuffs over the wrists should be worn when handling materials to prevent possible frostbite during the winter months and burns from hot materials at any other time of the year.
  • Disposable facemasks, that cover the nose and mouth, should be worn by workers during tear-offs, sweeping operations, or any other situation where chemical irritants are present.
  • Protective glasses with side protection.
  • Face shields for kettle operators.
  • Knee pads to protect the knees when kneeling to work on a roof.
  • Hearing protection when operating mechanical equipment.

Roofing safety isn’t just important for your workers, it’s also important for your bottom line and the occupants of your building (if any). Many insurance companies require that these standards be followed rigidly in order to cover your workers in the event of an accident. At Elite, our team of skilled roofers is always kept up to date with the latest safety requirements, ensuring that they are as prepared as possible for each project and that your roofing work runs as smoothly as possible. That’s the Elite Advantage.