Avoiding Slips and Trips on the Roof
Slips and trips are commonplace in the roofing industry and every single year thousands of slip- and trip-related safety incidents occur, many without injury, while others result in injuries, some of which are serious or life-threatening. While a trip at ground level can be dangerous in some instances, a slip or trip when working on a roof involves the potential for a fall from height. Today we’re going to take a look at some of the measures that can be taken to reduce the incidence of slips and trips, especially during unpredictable weather conditions when it’s even more important that contractors and construction managers maintain high levels of safety on site.
The ability to move safely across a roofing site means that it should be kept tidy and clean, with any equipment in use spread out in an orderly fashion and that safety risks can be identified as soon as they arise. There are three tasks that can be carried out to reduce the chance of a slip or trip occurring.
A stringent roofing site evaluation should be carried out and then managers should be routinely going over the site several times each day checking for any new or unnoticed hazards. Any contractor who notices a risk that has not been reported should speak to the supervisor about it immediately. Among the most common slip and trip hazards are:
- Physical obstacles – these may present over the course of the job, creating new hazards. Keeping work and storage areas tidy and ensuring that materials delivered are appropriately stored in a tidy manner are essential, as is keeping waste collection in a designated area.
- Uneven surfaces – make sure these areas are clearly marked and adequately lit and that there are good conditions surrounding them. Using a rooftop walkway system is a good way of designating a safe path around these areas.
- Changes in roof level – these should be equipped with a safety ramp if possible or clearly marked with signs where the changes in level are.
- Trailing cables – use cordless tools if possible. Any temporary lighting cables or mains-powered tools cables should be run along a higher level to reduce the risk of a safety incident.
- Wet or slippery surfaces – this includes surfaces covered in ice or mud. Providing a temporary cover on these surfaces, such as a portable rooftop walkway system will reduce risks. Make sure signage clearly denotes unsafe or slipper areas and that all personnel wear the appropriate, non-slip footwear.
The individual hazards vary when it comes to roofing projects so it’s vital to take the time to identify and resolve hazards. One area that may be overlooked outside of the working are on the roof is the access route. This could be stairs, corridors, footpaths, on-site cabins, etc., and all of these routes should also be regularly inspected for hazards. While avoiding slips and trips completely may not be possible, identifying hazards that could lead to trips and slips will go a long way towards making the job safer for everybody involved.