Rooftop Safety 101

Roofing can be a dangerous profession without the appropriate safety precautions. Workers are thousands of feet above the ground, and one misstep could severely injure or even threaten one’s life on a job site. Knowing the risk, the best roofing companies understand their responsibility in keeping their workers safe by following proper guidelines, such as those outlined by OSHA. You can identify a quality roofing company by how they care for their employees’ well-being. 

To help you identify a safe, qualified roofing contractor, we’ve outlined some rooftop safety basics, with added precautions for COVID-19. 

1. Fall Prevention

In 90 percent of fatal falls, there’s not a proper fall-protection plan in place. To stop these preventable accidents and protect from injury and liability lawsuits, roofing companies must stay up to date on OSHA regulations and that facilities take precautions to protect roofers.

OSHA requires the following precautions to prevent falls:

  • 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

2. Proper Employee Training

No matter how many precautions are in place, a roofing team is only as safe as its least-informed team member. Everyone on a job site should be regularly trained on safety basics—even the most seasoned roofers need refresher training. The team should all have a great deal of knowledge when it comes to keeping themselves and the rest of their team safe from the beginning to the end of a project.

3. Attention to Weather

Even if a change in schedule shifts a roofing project’s timeline, a roofing company should never be willing to send their team to work on a roof in inclement weather. Certain weather conditions can create extremely dangerous work conditions for their teams, causing decreased visibility as well as increased risk for falling and other work-related injuries.

4. Job Hazard Analysis

Companies that value safety will conduct a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) to understand how they can best prepare their team for a safe project. This analysis takes into account fall risks, exposure to electricity or chemicals, and several other potentially unsafe items that teams should be aware of.

5. Use of Technology

Roofing technology advances quickly, and it’s up to companies to stay up to date and utilize technology that can increase the safety of their employees. For example, drones can now be used for small-scale roof inspections to keep team members off of the roof altogether, until it’s absolutely necessary.

Another example is 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.

6. Health Precautions: COVID-19

Safety for construction sites currently includes protecting workers from spreading the coronavirus. Rooftop workers are practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and are asked to stay home if they are feeling ill. To keep their areas sanitized, teams use sanitizing solutions so as not to contaminate an area that another team member will touch.

Roofing companies must carefully follow the general CDC guidelines for construction sites, as well as guidelines by industry-specific organizations, such as the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), to ensure that they have taken every possible precaution.  

Contact Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. today to learn how we keep our employees safe while continuing to serve our customers.

Best Practices for Gutter & Roof Drain Debris Removal

Leaves and small debris may not seem like something that can damage a hardy commercial roofing system, but if left alone these little messes can turn into major problems over time, causing leaks and other damage. Regularly cleaning gutters and roof drains should be an integral part of any roof management program. Here are some tips for keeping those roofs sparkling clean:

Know your draining system

You’ve probably heard of gutters, but what is a roof drain? Roof drains are typically used on large commercial roofs to drain from the interior part of the roof and not just the edges. Whether you have gutters or a roof drain will change the frequency and type of debris removal that your roof requires. A professional roofer should be able to immediately identify which type of draining system a roof uses and to remove debris accordingly.

Safety first

Whether you’re the one going up on the ladder or you paid a professional to do the job, safety is the most important consideration when removing debris from a roof. Proper safety gear like goggles, gloves, and safety tie offs should be employed during the entire process. It’s also important to consider how the debris will be removed. Throwing leaves and sticks off the side of a roof can be hazardous to people below and workers should consider using bags to store the debris and remove it safely.

Watch out for clogs

A debris cleaning is a great time to examine the gutter and drain systems for clogs and wear and tear. When cleaning a roof, you should also water-test drains and gutters to ensure that moisture on the roof is able to escape properly. Check for loose bolts and screws on gutters, and examine flashings, sealants, and seams for problems. Not just any maintenance worker can do this kind of detailed inspection so it’s important to call in a professional at least a few times a year to make sure everything is working properly.

Prepare for winter

What is just a pile of damp leaves in the fall can become a frozen drain blockage during the winter. Small amounts of water pooling can also become an issue as water seeps into a roof and then freezes and expands. Just because roof debris seems innocuous in the summer doesn’t mean it won’t be an issue later on. Anticipating the change of seasons is an important detail in roof maintenance.

To learn more about how Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal can help keep your commercial roof debris-free, contact us today.