Just because New Year’s is over doesn’t mean you should drop the ball on your safety resolutions. You don’t have to wait for an OSHA fine or citation, either. The right time for fall safety to be a top priority is right now. There are always simple steps you can take to help minimize the likelihood of rooftop falls. By resolving to follow the ten tips below, you can operate your businesses with a fresh approach to rooftop fall protection.
10) Improve your safety and compliance training
There is no substitute for comprehensive safety training in the workplace. The most effective training programs are those that keep employees engaged and interested in learning more about rooftop fall protection. Here are a few ways you can make safety training fun for your employees:
- Offer recognition and incentives to employees who master key safety concepts and policies
- Use an online learning platform or learning management system (LMS) to enable employees to learn using their favorite mobile devices
- Provide refresher sessions to help employees maintain their focus on fall prevention and other safety issues
9) Develop a safety-focused work culture
“To build a thriving safety culture, companies need to focus on both the procedures and processes that guide their operations, as well as the attitudes and behaviors of every employee. It’s not as simple as creating new workplace rules. It involves a new way of thinking about fatality and injury prevention.”
– Grover Hardin, EHS Today
Building a culture of safety is one of the best ways to ensure that fall prevention remains a top goal for employees who spend extended hours on rooftops. Ask your executive team to join you in transforming the way that your organization handles rooftop safety.
8) Identify overlooked fall hazards
When planning for rooftop fall protection, many safety managers tend to focus on a roof’s perimeter. However, there are other rooftop hazards that warrant your attention. Here are a few of the most commonly overlooked rooftop fall hazards:
- Ladders and access points: Industrial rooftops often feature multiple ladders and stairs which can be difficult to safely navigate.
- Skylights: OSHA considers skylights as holes in buildings through which people may fall if there are no safety barriers.
- Construction areas: Falls may occur when people trip over exposed piping, cables, and building materials.
- Uneven roof areas: Many rooftops feature varying levels and drop-offs. Falls can result when people do not notice these drop-offs.
7) Invest in a safety railing system
A robust safety railing will go a long way toward preventing rooftop falls and helping you achieve OSHA compliance in the new year. They can be positioned around the perimeter of a rooftop and can also be positioned around skylights, construction areas, and access points to prevent falls. As you launch your search for guard railings in the new year, remember that not all safety railing manufacturers are created equal. Make sure you select an industry expert whose railings are carefully crafted to help your facility comply with OSHA standards.
6) Reflect on any “close calls” from the previous year
As you prepare for your champagne toast at midnight, you may reflect on how fortunate you feel to have another successful year behind you. But you may also recall some “near misses” your employees experienced during rooftop work. As you enter the new year, meet with your employees to discuss these close calls and how they could have been prevented.
5) Cover skylights with protective screens
Because OSHA categorizes skylights as roof holes, you should make them a key area of focus as you strive to prevent falls in the new year. Covering skylights with OSHA-compliant skylight screens is a great way to protect your employees and beautiful rooftop architecture. Screens are especially effective when used in conjunction with guard railings for even greater rooftop fall protection. Just make sure you choose screens with properly sized openings that can withstand a load of at least 200 pounds:
“Skylight screens shall be of such construction and mounting that they are capable of withstanding a load of at least 200 pounds applied perpendicularly at any one area on the screen…The construction shall be of grillwork with openings not more than 4 inches long or of slatwork with openings not more than 2 inches wide with length unrestricted.”
– Occupational Health and Safety Administration 1910.21-30
4) Plan more internal safety audits
Holding internal safety audits or inspections on a quarterly basis is one of the best ways to build a culture of safety compliance at your facility. In particular, such audits can shed light on rooftop fall hazards that have been overlooked and require attention.
The OSHA Guide for the State of California recognizes the key role of safety audits and inspections by stating, “You will be able to prevent many hazards from occurring through scheduled and documented self-inspections.” OSHA proceeds to note that such internal inspections should be held “in addition to the everyday safety and health checks that are part of the routine duties of the managers and supervisors.”
3) Replace any worn safety signage
Signs are a simple and cost-effective means of alerting employees and visitors to fall hazards. If your rooftop lacks signage – especially around overlooked hazards – the new year is the perfect time to correct this omission. Or, if your existing signage has become worn, then you should make plans to replace it in the near year. Just be sure to adhere to OSHA’s requirements, as outlined below:
“All signs shall be furnished with rounded or blunt corners and shall be free from sharp edges, burrs, splinters, or other sharp projections. The ends or heads of bolts or other fastening devices shall be located in such a way that they do not constitute a hazard.”
– OSHA, 1910.145(d)(1)
2) Do not ignore temporary employees
Temporary workers are vital to the completion of rooftop projects. However, they can present a special risk to employers due to their lack of familiarity with your company’s fall safety protocol. Just one slip or misstep can lead to a fall-related injury or OSHA fine that can put a damper on your new year. Make sure you have a plan in place to provide temporary workers with the safety training they need to perform their jobs safely and according to OSHA protocol.
1) Find a trusted fall protection partner
The best resolution you can make is to ring in the New Year with a dependable source for fall safety equipment and guidance. For decades, BlueWater has helped organizations optimize safety and foster OSHA compliance by transforming their rooftop fall protection plans. As an international leader in the safety railing industry, BlueWater offers cost-effective guard railings and safety gates designed to protect your workforce and visitors. Our team looks forward to working with you to make sure that you don’t drop the ball on rooftop safety in the New Year!