The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has stated that falls from height can occur during the simple acts of walking or climbing a step ladder or as a result of a complex chain of events. It doesn't take more than a few feet of height to create the conditions for a critical accident.
OSHA (the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration) identifies falls as the leading cause of death in construction. In the US, there were 294 fall fatalities out of a total of 796 fatalities in construction in 2013. By comparison, there were 221 construction fatalities in Canada in 2013, with the number of fall fatalities remaining unknown and undisclosed.
Because falls from heights, and most specifically from roofs are the leading cause of critical accident and death in construction, we’ve put together a list of our top 10 safety tips for roof workers. The intent to help your organization and your workers work safely at heights.
Top 10 Safety Tips for Roof Workers:
- Never Work Alone – Always try to work in pairs. Should an accident happen, there should always be someone there to help you.
- Use Ladders Properly – your ladder should always be on a solid, level surface. If your roof is uneven, add a ladder leveler. If the feet of your ladder are in grass or dirt, flip the feet so that the anti-slip teeth are pointed down into the ground, or dig small holes. If your ladder is on a patio or deck, attach a board behind the bottom of your ladder feet to keep it from slipping or sliding on the surface. Always extend the ladder at least 3 rungs above the contact point on the building as to be able to reach it and stabilize during the dissension approach.
- Avoid Wet (or snowy) Roofs - Avoid working on a wet or snowy roof. The roof can be very slippery and wet leaves can make it even worse – and remember to wear safety shoes or boots because typically they’ve been designed with good traction in mind. Never walk backwards on a roof (seems like an obvious statement…), however many workers walk backwards while measuring, which is a hazard all on its own!
Understand Your Fall Distance - Whether you are working on a ladder, on scaffolding or performing any other type of work-at-heights, the fall arrest system is of no help if you reach the ground before your fall is stopped. Although it sounds obvious, we all unfortunately hear about those situations where someone used an inadequate fall arrest system.
This problem typically results from a lack of fall protection training or a solution developed without the assistance of a qualified person. Miscalculating the fall arrest distance always leads to the same result: injuries or death. To learn more about fall distance or to discover if the system your using is right for the work you do - click here!
- Choose the Proper Personal Safety Equipment – As fall protection safety experts, at Height Works we believe that you should always choose the proper personal safety equipment that is rated for the type of work that you do. When you SHOP with Height Works you can find any number of kits to match the type of work-at-heights work you perform, including: the Tempo III, Temporary Horizontal Lifeline Kit; the Roofers Kit; the basic Fall Protection Kit; and the D4 Descender Kit. In addition to these inclusive kits you can find a variety of harnesses for many work-at-height applications, including: Rescue Harness, Kevlar Harness, the Elastrac Harness, and the Phoenix harness.
- Wear Your Safety Harness Properly - Always wear and properly use a personal safety harness designed for you work-at-height use. We often drive by job sites and see work-at-height workers wearing a safety harness, and either they’re not wearing it complete done up, or they are wearing it properly but its not attached to anchors to prevent a fall if one were to occur! Its one thing to have personal safety equipment, but if you don’t use it properly, you’re not doing yourself any favors in preventing a nasty fall, incurring a significant injury, or even death. And if you’re uncertain about all the features of your personal safety equipment see Tip #9 below.
- Inspect Your Personal Safety Equipment Annually – Personal safety equipment should be inspected annually by a competent person. A competent person inspection is in addition to the equipment users “pre-use” inspection and should be performed by a competent person other than the equipment user. Simply said, although you may be wearing, your personal safety equipment to work, it’s no good to you if any one part of your safety equipment fails while you’re working-at-heights. If you’re looking for a fall protection safety expert to inspect your equipment for you, click here to learn more about Height Works inspection services.
Use The Right Fall Protection System - Using the right fall protection system for the job you do is a critical and an essential element in preventing a fall, critical injury and/or death.
Do you have a challenging problem to overcome for your work-at-height employees?
Discover the solutions available to your organizations and working-at-height employees, click to learn more about our Consulting Services.
Train, Train, Train – So you have workers, and they now have personal safety equipment. Do they know how to use it? Just having it and knowing how to use it properly makes a world of difference to the safety of your workers. And remember that training shouldn’t be just a one-time event! As equipment ages and is retired, onboarding new equipment comes with new training for equipment use and handling. Interested in learning more? Click to learn about the training services available at Height Works?
Contact the Experts – when in doubt about anything fall protection related, including: personal safety equipment uses and handling, How To – for just about anything, what fall protection system should your organization use, or how to access training?
Contact your fall protection safety experts at Height Works today! We are passionate about everything Fall Protection!! No other company in Western Canada offers such a complete range and true one-stop-shop for all your business’ work-at-height needs.
At Height Works you can access custom turn-key fall protection systems and installations; onsite safety systems and equipment use training; inspections, testing’s and certification services, safety systems and personal safety equipment sales, combined with Consulting Services with our Fall Protection experts. Click to learn more.