Roofing work poses safety risks for workers because of the high heights involved in installing roofs. Each year, many roofers sustain injuries and even die on the job in the U.S. OSHA regulations for roofing focus on fall protection equipment to help protect the safety and health of roofing workers.
OSHA holds employers responsible for deciding whether a roof provides enough structural strength and integrity to support roof workers. Employers can only allow workers to walk on surfaces that can safely support them.
OSHA requires fall protection for workers on surfaces over six feet off the ground that do not have protection along the surface edges. Since roofs rarely have any sort of built-in protective rails, employers must provide fall protection for roof workers. Workers on low-slope roofs with heights over six feet require guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems. Workers on highly-sloped roofs should have guardrails with toeboards, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems.
Employees should have protection from roof holes with falls over six feet, including skylights. OSHA regulations for roofing require holes to be covered, guardrails installed or for employees to have personal arrest systems in case they fall through a hole in the roof.
Roofing workers installing plumbing, drywall, HVAC systems, insulation, electrical systems and carpentry on roofs must have adequate training to install whatever system they are working on.
OSHA requires roof surfaces to have inspections for slip hazards. Employees should wear footwear to reduce slipping and employers should either eliminate slipping hazards or have workers avoid them.
Employers must make sure that no impalement hazards sit on the ground below roof edges, according to OSHA regulation.
In the case of bad weather makes roofing work dangerous, employers are required to stop roofing work until the weather improves.
Materials for work installing plumbing, drywall, HVAC systems, insulation, electrical systems and carpentry on roofs should be "conveniently close" to workers. For other types of roofing work, OSHA forbids materials from being stored less than six feet from the edge of the roof.
- roof image by Eldin Muratovic from Fotolia.com