Everyone is responsible for preventing falls when working on a roof. The building owner/property manager, the self-employed contractor, any subcontractor and the worker are each responsible for safety considerations.
Health and safety on the roof starts when the decision is made to access the roof or work begins near the roof edge. All aspects of working safely at a height should be considered. The general rule is: A fall protection system is required when there is a fall hazard of more than 10 feet and where the roof parapet edge is less than 42 inches tall. (plus or minus 3 inches)
” Preventing falls from heights is a priority for federal OSHA. Building owners are responsible to actively manage any significant hazard and provide assurances to the employers / contractors working at a height . .”
Doing nothing to address safety is not an option. In order to stay safe when working at a height, you need to ensure effective controls are in place to prevent people being harmed. To select the most effective controls, you must consider the following steps:
Eliminate the chances of a fall by doing as much of the preparation work as possible before work begins. Normally this is done by doing a fall hazard roof assessment. The assessment report will review all aspects of safe access and egress for all work activities that may take place on the roof. The intent is to isolate the worker from the risk of a fall by using roof edge protection guard rails as means of prevention. In some situations a combination of controls will be required to ensure safe work.
“falls from heights starts with a professional fall assessment of your roof top.”
Edge protection should be used as a means of isolating workers from a fall. This includes guard rails, horizontal life lines, localized tieback and lifeline anchors.
Edge protection should be provided on all the exposed edges of a roof, including the perimeter of buildings, skylights or other fragile roof materials and for any openings in the roof. This also applies to openings and edges of floor areas. Where there is the risk of workers falling through openings in a roof, the openings should be identified and guarded.
- A full hazard assessment of the roof is needed before work starts? Developing a checklist and work plan is good practice.
- Are workers trained or supervised to work on a roof, near the roof edge or over the edge using suspended equipment safely? Is there safe access to all roof areas including a review of access ladders and catwalks?
- Have the roof and fall arrest system been inspected, reviewed and tested if needed and has the building owner/ property manager provided assurance that the system is suitable for the intended work to safely access the building edge or facade?
- Have all the access restrictions been identified and understood by the contractors in order to protected them from falling off roof edges and do they have a rescue plan?
- Are workers protected from falling through skylights, vulnerable penetrations or other brittle roof conditions and Are people below the work protected from the dangers of falling materials?
- Are the weather conditions suitable for working on a roof and do roof workers have appropriate footwear to prevent them from slipping?
- Have lower electrical hazards and vehicle traffic hazards been identified?
Other possible considerations may be to eliminate the hazard of a fall from a roof and work from the ground using extension poles,scaffolding and mobile elevating work platform.
It’s the law – doing nothing is not an option!
Compliance with the legal requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act is the responsibility of anyone associated with working at a height in a place of work. The law recognizes that the building owner/property manager has the necessary means to control, eliminate, isolate and minimize fall hazards.