Rooftop Safety Compliance 101

Kathleen Maxwell

man in blue shirt with a white helmet climbing up a ladder

Each year, around 50 roofers will suffer a fatal fall. In the construction industry, falls are responsible for about 40 percent of all work-related deaths. But, despite these sobering statistics, fall protection is the most violated health and safety standard according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In 90 percent of the fatal falls that occur, there was not a proper fall-protection plan in place. To stop these preventable accidents and protect from injury and liability lawsuits, it’s important that roofing companies stay up to date on OSHA regulations and that facilities take precautions to protect employees who will be working atop a roof.

Fall Protection Basics

Fall Exposure Risks—The first thing an employer should ask at a work site is if their workers are exposed to the risk of falling. OSHA defines fall exposure in the construction industry as any potential fall of more than 6 feet. Generally, fall exposure on rooftops occurs in five different ways:

  • Roof Access—Many falls occur before anyone even reaches the roof on a ladder or on scaffolding.
  • Roof Edge—A roof’s edge provides the most obvious danger for a fall and can send people down multiple stories to the ground.
  • Obstacles and Openings—Many commercial roofs have skylights or vents that workers can mistakenly fall into.
  • Roof Systems—Many commercial roofs will house important equipment like HVAC systems. Because workers often need access to this equipment, the area surrounding rooftop systems presents a high risk of fall exposure.
  • Navigation—Rooftops with tricky obstacles or low visibility can pose a safety risk to workers.

Preventing Falls—OSHA requires that employers provide fall protection systems for their employees. This includes:

  • Covering holes like skylights or other penetrations using a cover or railing
  • Building guardrails and toe-boards near certain ledges and on lifts
  • Creating warning systems for areas with a fall risk
  • Providing fall restraint systems (like harnesses) when workers will be near edges
  • Securing ladders and other equipment used to access a building’s roof

In some cases, OSHA also recommends the use of fall arrest systems, such as safety nets. In commercial roofing, personal fall arrest systems are also common. These systems use harnesses and some sort of shock-absorbing line to prevent workers from falling quickly to the ground.

Innovation In Fall Safety

Roofing is a constantly evolving industry, and new technology is finding its way into fall safety. While physical barriers, fall restraint, and arrest systems are critical for protecting people on a building’s roof, there are two emerging technologies that are helping to make roofing even safer. 

  • Drone Inspections—The best way to prevent a fall is to keep people off the roof entirely. The use of imaging drones for inspections allows roofers to identify problems or create maintenance plans without ever putting themselves near a dangerous ledge.
  • GPS Hazard Marking—Large roofing surfaces may have multiple hazard locations, and it can be difficult for workers to remember exactly where they need to be to stay safe. Many roofing companies have started integrating GPS into their safety equipment so that workers receive an alert when they are approaching a dangerous area.

Finding a Roofing Partner that Values Safety

No matter how safety-conscious a general contractor or facility manager may be, employees will be at risk if roofers don’t also value safety. It’s important that roofing companies work to protect their own workers while on the job and to install safety equipment on the roof to protect other workers in the future. Here are a few things to check for when vetting a roofing company’s safety regulations.

  1. Does the roofer conduct a Job Hazard Analysis?

    The first step in preventing a workplace accident is to conduct a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA). This includes a specific protocol for evaluating fall risks and creating a rooftop safety plan.

  2. Does the roofer follow OSHA standards by providing railing systems, roof anchors, and penetrations?

    OSHA lays out specific building requirements for roofs with skylights to prevent people from falling through them. The agency also requires railing systems for ladders and has specific requirements for roof anchors that can support workers in harnesses. A safety-conscious roofing company should be able to provide engineering and installation for each of these safety requirements.

  3. Does the roofer consider HVAC worker safety?

    Once a roof is built, HVAC workers will likely be the most frequent visitors to a building’s rooftop. Roofers who prioritize safety will recommend a guardrail to protect HVAC workers that will be near a roof’s edge.

  4. Does the roofing company provide safety training to its employees?

    All employees who are going to be working on a roof should receive some sort of safety training. Roofing companies that value safety will often participate in certification classes through OSHA. Another company safety program is the Certified Roofing Torch Applicator (CERTA) program, which teaches workers how to use roofing torches. Though not specifically designed to prevent falls, CERTA and other certifications show that a company cares about safety.

Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. prioritizes safety as our highest concern. To learn more about how we help protect our employees and the importance of maintaining commercial rooftop safety compliance and fall protection, contact us today.


Search Resources

Popular Tags

2020 2020 commercial roof Accounts Payable Administrative Office Coordinator aerial roof moisture survey Alabama anchored article Anchored Client Spotlight Anchored Employee Spotlight apprenticeships architectural design asphalt Baker Twins Real Estate Brentwood Baptist Church Brian Mecomber budget Budgeting building maintenance building owners building temperatures built-up roofing BUR business owners CDC checklist checklist for business owners Chelsey Cole choosing a roof type Chris Vogl church roofing Claudette Patterson client spotlight client testimonial clogged drainage cold Colliers International commecial roofing commercial buildings commercial contractors commercial investment property Commercial Properties commercial real estate Commercial Roof commercial roof budget commercial roof budgeting commercial roof construction commercial roof inspection commercial roof maintenance commercial roof materials commercial roof problems Commercial Roof Replacement commercial roof value commercial roofing commercial roofing budget commercial roofing construction commercial roofing goals commercial roofing in Nashville Commercial Roofing Partner Commercial Roofing Preventative Maintenance commercial roofing strategy commercial roofing technology commercial roofing terminology commercial roofs common questions competitive benefits comprehensive roof assessments comprehensive roof maintenance condensation Connection Between Insulation & Commercial Roofing construction construction manager construction managers construction misconceptions construction safety Contractor Contractor Warranties contractors Controller cool roof cool roofing cool roofs coronavirus corporate buildings corporate roof cost savings costs COVID-19 customer service dan maxwell Design designer roofs develop talent Do's and Don't of Roof Installations documentation DOL draining system drains Drone Inspections drying durable materials Eco-Friendly Eco-Friendly Commercial Roofing Options eco-friendly roof Elevated roof moisture survey emergency helpline emergency repair employee appreciation employee spotlight employee training energy costs energy efficiency energy efficient tips energy savings energy-efficient roofing Ensworth School EPDM EPDM roofing estimates estimating estimator Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer Fabrication facility managers fall checklist fall maintenance fall protection faqs Featured Article Featured Client Spotlight Featured Employee Featured Employee Spotlight federal buildings flashing flat roof forecasting Full-service roofing services general contractors government buildings Grease Traps Green Roof green roofing gutters heat damage hiring Horrell Company Huntsville Huntsville Commercial Roofing HVAC HVAC systems HVAC units ice ice damage impalement hazards improve performance industrial buildings industrial roofing industrial roofs Infrared Moisture Infrared Moisture Surveys inspection plan Inspections Installation Insulation insurance jackie sprout John Blue Realty John Maxwell Journey Design Group Kalen Canaday Leak Prevention Leaks licensing light-colored roofs long-term maintenance long-term roof management longevity of a roof low-slope commercial roof maintenance maintenance plan Manufacturer Warranties manufacturing Martha Walden Material Warranties Matt Matthews MAXCare Maxwell Monitors Maxwell Roofing Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal Maxwell Roofing Client Spotlight Maxwell Roofing employee maxwell roofing experience metal fabrication Metal Roof Metal Roofing Michael Cox moisture retention Nashville Nashville Commercial Roofing nashville roof recovery nashville roof recovery systems Nashville Roofing Nashville Roofing Partner nashville winter National Safety Month new construction Next Generation Net Lease ongoing learning opportunities ongoing roof maintenance open penetrations OSHA OSHA standards planning for emergencies ponding ponding water Preparing for winter prevent a roofing emergency prevent seasonal damage preventative maintenance pricing proactive maintenance project manager prolong roof life property management PVC PVC membranes PVC roofing qualified roof technician Quality Ray Ferguson RCP Companies recovery systems recruitment Recycled or Biodegradable Roof Material regular inspections Reputation Risk Management roof assessments roof budget roof cleaning roof coatings roof construction roof curbs roof damage roof debris removal roof diffusers Roof Drain Debris Removal roof holes roof inspections Roof Installation Roof installation tips roof investment roof leak repairs Roof leaks roof life expectancy Roof Maintenance roof management roof materials roof performance roof preventative maintenance roof repair roof replacement roof replacements roof safety roof weatherproofing Roofers Coffee Shop Roofing roofing budget roofing care roofing cleaning Roofing Company roofing contractor roofing costs roofing employees roofing goals roofing industry roofing maintenance roofing materials roofing membrane roofing mistakes roofing problems Roofing Products roofing sales Roofing Specialists roofing trends rooftop bar rooftop deck rooftop features Rooftop grease traps Rooftop moisture survey rooftop patio rooftop penetrations rooftop safety safe construction Safety Samples Properties school roof construction school roofing safety school safety seasonal maintenance service account manager service and repair Service Superintendent services sheet metal sheet metal fabrication singly ply roofing systems skylights Skyline Replacement Skyline Replacement Tips sloped commercial roof snow Solar Panels solar roof Spray Polyurethane Foam spring maintenance state buildings Stephen Marbach Summer Heat summer kick-off party summer maintenance sun damage surface hazards temperature control The EDGE estimating software thermal proofing Thermoplastic Polyolefin Tips for Commercial Roofing top talent TPO membranes training types of roofing Under-roof moisture survey warehouse roof replacement warranties Warranty waterproofing weather damage white reflective roofs White Roof white roofs wind resistance winter maintenance winter weather winterizing roof

What Do Our Customers Have to Say?


Read Our Reviews