Safety Tips for Working on Steep Metal Roofs

As any roofer knows, it’s dangerous to work on roofs in general and even more so on steep-pitched roofs. Therefore, it’s wise to observe some common sense safety tips. In addition, you may want to look over OSHA’s NEW Protecting Roofing Workers publication.

Visual Survey
Before you start a metal roofing project, you should inspect the area carefully. Check the condition of the existing roof to insure there are no hazard like weak spots, skylights, etc. If any safety equipment or anchors were left in place by previous workers, make sure they are still stable.

Roof Preparation
Starting with the best points to access the roof, any hazards should be identified and minimized before work begins. Make sure ladders are safe and secure to use. Place the materials so that they are easy to reach and cannot fall onto people below. Place barriers around holes, skylights, or other hazardous features of the roof. Try to avoid working on the roof when it’s wet.

Fall Protection System
The purpose of the system is to stop a fall before the worker hits the ground or any level below the roof. A fall restraint system is similar, but its anchor and safety line are positioned to prevent the worker from reaching a point where a fall is possible. OSHA regulations require any roofer who works 6 feet or more above a lower level to use an adequate fall protection system.

Fall protection systems reduce the risk of injury or death of a roofer working on a steep roof. A personal fall arrest system consists of an anchor point, a harness worn by the worker, and a safety line that connects the harness to the anchor.

If needed, install anchors for attaching your safety gear and test them before use. Fall protection anchors used on metal roofs include permanent anchors and rings secured through the roofing material to the trusses below.

There are also temporary clamp anchors that attach to the seams between the roofing panels. OSHA requires that anchors meet minimum standards for weight bearing, plus installation by a qualified installer, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Leaving anchors in place at the end of the job saves time, and future workers can take advantage of the existing equipment.

Pay Attention
Last, but not least – you should always pay attention on a steep metal roof. For those who have some fear of heights, you have good reason to be so. For those who have no fear of heights, beware – one careless action can cause you or a fellow worker to get hurt. So always pay attention.

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