Roofing is one of the most dangerous jobs people can do, and over 75% of all on-the-job roofing injuries come from falls. This shocking statistic is why roofing safety should always be your #1 priority when getting up on the roof for any job, big or small. However, there are consequences for not following the proper roof safety guidelines that go beyond just injuries. We’ll dive into all of it, plus go over top roofing safety best practices.
The Consequences of Not Following Roofing Safety Guidelines
Several things can happen when you don’t ensure a safe working environment for your workers.
Injuries or Death
Yes, it’s harsh, but severe injuries and death can quickly occur when a roofing team does not follow safety instructions. Working without a safety harness, hard hat, or other safety measures highly increases the chances of injury. Both people working on the roof and those down below can be injured from falls and falling debris.
Falls or head injuries can occur at any moment, and even if you’re hopping up on the roof for one quick fix, that’s all it takes for one false move that leads to injury. So always have a harness on, no matter what.
Employees expect that when they have a job, they’ll be respected, kept safe and that the company cares about them. An unsafe work environment that shows blatant disregard for the safety of its employees can create unsatisfied workers that will end up leaving their job for a safer environment.
Because many roofers and contractors are part of a union, roofing companies can be at risk of workers’ strikes. Workers may go on strike until proper safety measures are put in place, especially after a death or injury in the workplace. Ensuring they feel safe eases everyone’s mind.
OSHA can come to inspect a job site unannounced, and if they notice any unsafe conditions, they can fine companies a hefty charge. OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Association, is dedicated to upholding workers’ rights to a safe, clean work environment.
Fines applied from OSHA can be anywhere from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Repeat offenders of safety violations can see charges as high as $150,000 depending on how many times they’ve violated, the severity of the circumstance, or willfully not addressing any of the violations.
Lose Your License
If you’ve been caught ignoring safety regulations, OSHA may ask to inspect your license. If they find it lacking or out of date, the company could lose their contractor’s license and face other consequences such as not securing new contracts until a passing inspection is made.
Any contractors working under that business will also be affected and may not be able to secure new jobs or will have a more challenging time doing so.
Higher Insurance Premiums
Insurance companies can also drop a roofing company for safety violations. However, insurance premiums are costly. Insurance brokers will consider any risk of an accident or injury on the job site, who may increase yearly rates to compensate for potential damages from lack of safety measures being taken.
Cause More Damage
Not only can injuries occur, but there are other ways that roofing safety violations can cause more damage to a roof. For example, if materials are not correctly placed, debris falls onto the roofs below, which could block gutters and downspouts, damage your landscaping, or damaged parts of the roof that were in good condition.
The proper constraints, ladders, and hauling techniques can all help avoid any further damage. The last thing you want is to ruin the job you’re there to do or have to repair work for free due to the mistakes of your company’s poor safety protocol.
Safety Tips for your Roofing Team
Here is how you can keep your roofing team safe and free from injury.
Wear Proper Clothing and Footwear
Make sure everyone is aware of proper footwear and clothing. This means avoiding slippery soles on smooth surfaces and anything with loose strings or long hems that can catch on the roof surface.
Keep the Working Area Clean
Ensure there is a clear area around the workspace that doesn’t have any debris or sharp objects for workers to trip over. It’s essential to keep them protected from anything on top of the roof as well, so make sure nobody climbs up without first checking it out thoroughly and cleaning off loose materials like leaves or sticks.
Keep an Eye on the Weather
Try to work around bad weather like rain or storms. This can make the roofing surface incredibly slippery and leave workers susceptible to hazardous conditions and cold weather or lightning exposure.
Utilize Safety Ropes and Harnesses
Safety ropes are a must-have for roofing. Ensure all employees are following the proper guidelines, and if they’re not wearing them regularly — require it of everyone on your team. They are lightweight, can be easily moved to new anchors throughout a job, so no one has to worry about tripping over the safety ropes.
Store and Handle Hazardous Materials Appropriately
Depending on the job and application technique, roofers may use materials like paint, glues, and other chemicals. It’s imperative to handle these things with care, according to the instructions and warning labels.
Keep Ladders Secure
Never leave a ladder unattended, and always have someone supervising to ensure no one has an accident or falls off. Make sure it’s firmly planted against the roof and secured properly before you begin working with tools up there. You can purchase ladder hooks to secure it to the house for easy mount and dismount of the ladder. It may be wise to bring more than one ladder for large jobs, so employees aren’t climbing back down over and over to change out ladders.
Use Guardrails or Scaffolding
Some areas of the roof might be hard to reach and difficult to navigate without added safety measures. Adding temporary guardrails or scaffolding can make those high-pitch roofs safer and easier to work on. Some projects often require scaffolding because of the repairs or replacement complexity—pay attention to those jobs and ensure all safety measures are utilized.
Whether you’re a DIY roofer or a professional contractor, the same safety steps should be followed no matter what roof job you’re working on. Prevent injuries and fines by following the proper safety guidelines—you won’t regret it! For more roofing tips, check out Roofing Insights today!