Whether you need a professional roofing company for an inspection, ongoing maintenance, roof renovation, or a complete roof replacement, one of the least verified areas by clients is a company’s safety on the roof. Many commercial building owners tend to focus on the company’s reputation, expertise, and price point, rarely giving their safety protocols a second thought. Each of these areas should be embodied by a professional commercial roofing company, but not at the expense of safety. Learn what to look for to make sure safety is a priority for your roofing company.
How to Know if a Company Practices Safety on the Roof
Chances are that websites for most roofing companies talk about their commitment to safety, but what does that actually mean? It is important to know the exact, quantifiable steps a company is taking to practice safety on the roof for the sake of their crew and those inside the building.
There are four primary areas of safety a modern professional commercial roofing company should commit to, and they are:
- PPE (personal protective equipment)
- Heat Safety
- Wind and Rain Safety
- Accident Prevention
PPE for Roofers
Today, PPE has become a buzzword of sorts, but long before the pandemic ever arrived conscientious roofers were utilizing PPE to protect themselves against industry-related hazards and irritants.
Basic PPE wear for roofers typically includes:
- Long pants as well as a shirt that covers the torso and most of the arm to help protect against sun exposure and exposure to hazards and irritants (clothing must fit close to the body)
- Outer vest or garment that is a bright, fluorescent, or neon color to increase a worker’s visibility
- Slip resistant and durable shoes that assist with firmer footholds and protect against slipping or falling
- A hard hat to help shield the head from falling or airborne objects
- Safety glasses to safeguard the eyes from foreign materials and particles
- Hearing and respiratory protection as needed
Together, these elements of PPE can help shield roofers from common mishaps that could put a project, the roofing team, and the people inside the building at risk.
Particularly in warmer climates, the roof of a commercial building can be hot enough to pose significant risk to roofing teams. For this reason, a professional company should be proactive in protecting their employees from dangerous heat-related situations such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
In addition to the environmental heat, expert roofers may utilize tools such as torches or welding machines that can increase exposure to heat via the temperature and flammable materials.
In addition to wearing the PPE items already mentioned above, some additional steps companies can take to protect workers on the roof should include:
- Performing jobs during the coolest part of the day and in the shade when possible
- Following manufacturer’s instructions when using heat inducing tools
- Ensuring cold water is accessible
- Mandating regular water breaks
- Knowing first aid for heat-related illnesses
- Checking in with each other to ensure no one is in a state a confusion, which can be a sign of heat exhaustion
Even in geographic locations that are only mildly warm, the temperature on the roof can be dramatically higher, especially when workers are physically exerted and are using heat inducing tools. These heat safety rules should be the gold standard for professional roofing companies.
Wind and Rain Safety
Even light winds can be a concern for professionals working on the roof of a commercial building. At this height, there are seldom structures close by that help block or slow the wind, which can spell danger for workers if the proper precautions are not taken.
In most cases when the wind poses a risk of serious harm, operations should be suspended until a time when it is no longer a safety issue. This protects not only the roofing team, but the integrity and quality of the work performed.
Rain can also be a substantial problem as it makes surfaces slippery, which can increase the likelihood of a fall. Some roofing materials may be more slippery than others and will respectively pose a greater risk when wet.
Just as with the wind, heavy or ongoing rains can be a significant threat to people working on a roof. For this reason, it may be in the best interest of the crew and client to postpone work until the rains have subsided.
This last category of accident prevention is typically a combination of PPE, heat safety, and wind and rain safety, but it can also go beyond those items. In addition to practicing the above measures to help safeguard against roofing accidents, the following protocol may also be adopted by a professional roofing company to better protect its workers:
- Training. Before ever starting a job, ensure that workers have proper training on practicing rooftop safety. This should include discussing some of the more common hazards such as electricity, fall hazards, hazardous substances, high temperatures, and power tools.
- Signage. Consider putting decals on workers’ hard hats that review the symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. This reminds workers to hydrate regularly and be aware of their physical state of health.
- Ladder safety. Verify that any roof ladders on your building are in good working condition. It is also a good idea to ensure there are enough ladders to get the job done right.
- Surface preparation. To reduce the chances of workers slipping, it is necessary to remove debris from the roof before work can begin. This also reduces the camouflaging of weak or problematic areas that could pose a safety risk.
- Rope and cord placement. These can be a trip hazard at ground level, so the stakes only go up when ropes and cords are laying on the roof. Workers should ensure that these implements are handled in a way that they do not restrict movement of workers or put them at added risk.
- Skylight protection. Some older skylight materials are hard for rooftop workers to see, so they should ensure that any skylights are well marked and protected against adjacent work.
Ideally, the company should have a low accident record. For example, RoofCARE experienced zero accidents among all their branches during the first quarter of 2022, which verifies the focus of the company on safety first.
Safety on the roof is paramount to a job well done. Not only does it protect the lives of the roofing experts, but also those who conduct business inside the building. RoofCare keeps roofers safe through a dedicated safety program including safety personnel, regular training and OSHA certifications.