The most important thing you can provide to employees who need to work on a roof is dependable rooftop fall protection. Whether they’re on top of a roof for routine maintenance or as part of a larger project, no job is too small to forego a reliable fall protection system. Safety rails are critical to eliminate fall risks – not just for the health and safety of your staff, but to meet OSHA regulations and avoid costly fines.
Falls are one of the biggest safety risks in the workplace and the leading cause of injury and/or death. To keep your workers’ safety a priority when they are up on the roof, there are several OSHA regulations you need to keep in mind:
- If workers are more than six feet above the lower level, there must be a rail in place to protect them from accidental falls.
- Top rails must be located between 39 and 46 inches above the working surface.
- If there is no attached wall, intermediate rails must be installed to help provide protection to the workers.
- There must be fall protection on the roof if workers are within 15 feet of the edge on a regular basis.
- Safety rails must be able to withstand 200 pounds of force without falling.
- Safety rail systems are now required even for temporary work being performed on the roof, including repair and maintenance, installation of solar panels, or occasional work. This is intended to help protect temporary workers around your facility. Temporary workers require safety protection if they will be within 6 feet of the edge of the roof.
OSHA also requires specific training for workers with rooftop responsibilities, whether for occasional tasks like snow removal or as a regular part of their job duties. Training includes how to recognize fall hazards and how to prevent placing themselves in a dangerous situation. This training is imperative for helping workers use your safety railing system appropriately no matter how big or small the job.
The Hazards of Working on the Roof
There are three key factors that can cause serious problems when working on the roof. Protecting against those problems will help keep your workers safer.
- Tripping over equipment that isn’t properly secured. Mismanaged equipment can cause even the most sure-footed worker to take an unexpected tumble.
- Working too close to the edge of the roof without a guard rail in place. Working close to the edge is dangerous. Without a guardrail in place, workers are needlessly placed in harm’s way.
- Falling into rooftop mechanicals. HVAC systems and other mechanicals on rooftops can create a hazard and working around them can place your workers in a precarious position.
Failing to offer adequate protection for your rooftop workers can cause serious hazards for even normal job tasks. Unfortunately, many roof workers suffer from falls that could have been prevented. Address these three concerns and help ensure your workers have a work environment they can feel confident in.
Using Safety Rails Properly
Whether you are considering a safety rail system or already have one in place, it’s important to make sure you are using it properly. This will help keep your workers safe as well as help you avoid costly compensation claims. To use yours correctly, make sure your safety rails:
- Are inspected, installed properly, and have been tested to ensure that they can maintain the appropriate load.
- Receive regular maintenance to ensure that rails are not coming loose, developing rust, or otherwise showing signs of problems.
- Are tested on a regular basis to ensure the safety of your rooftop workers.
Portable or Permanent? Deciding Which is Right for You
A safety rail doesn’t have to be an expensive, time-consuming addition to your facility. The addition of a safety rail system is an easy step to take to protect your workers. Depending on the needs of your workplace, you can choose portable or permanent solutions – neither of which requires a big undertaking.
Portable guardrails are designed for construction or for other short-term projects. They must be installed when workers will be within six feet of the edge of the roof. These safety railings can be installed on a short-term basis then removed when workers are done with their projects. They are tough enough to protect workers while they’re on the roof, but simple to take down again when the project is over.
Permanent guardrails are designed to provide long-term protection any time a member of the team is on the roof throughout the course of their normal job responsibilities.
There are also some guardrail systems that can act as both portable and permanent safety rail systems, depending on your company’s needs. These systems are fully OSHA-complaint, are dependably built to be long-lasting and can be installed in an hour with just two workers.
Providing appropriate rooftop fall protection is one of the most important ways to protect your workers when they’re on the job. From routine rooftop maintenance to installing new rooftop equipment, there are plenty of reasons why your workers might venture onto the roof. It’s important to be sure they’re appropriately protected while they are there. If you’re in the market for a new system and have questions, contact Bluewater Manufacturing today.