How to Effectively Perform a Rooftop Safety Audit: Part 1

March 16 2021 0comment

How to Effectively Perform a Rooftop Safety Audit: Part 1

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There are quite a number of activities that take place on commercial roofs, including gutter cleaning, servicing of surveillance and security equipment, maintenance and repair of HVAC units, window washing preparation, and snow removal. However, falls from heights, such as roofs, accounts for thousands and millions of injuries every year.

Rooftop hazard assessment is essential to ensure and maintain the safety of your workers working on the roof. Here are primary factors to consider when performing your rooftop safety audit.

  1. Access Points

How do your employees access the roof? This should be your primary consideration to determine the safety of access points such as ladders, exterior stairs, walk-out doors, and roof hatches. All access points should be properly secured, and only authorised personnel should be allowed access. Consider the following factors:

  • Check your fixed access ladders to see if they are in good condition and securely fixed to the wall.

  • Are the hatches protected by railings, or are they just dangerous holes in the roof when open?

  • Are the ladders and hatches protected with self-closing gates?

  • Are there trip and fall hazards around walk-out doors?

  • If your workers were to access the roof at night or with poor visibility, is there proper lighting in place?

  1. Edges and Open Sides

Roof edges and open sides on the roof are common hazards that most people consider. But several factors need to be addressed. Consider the following aspects:

  • Are there edges and open sides properly guarded?

  • Is the roof to roof surface changes greater than 4 feet protected?

  • Does there relevant fall protection exist? If so, are the fall arrest devices and fall protection equipment in proper working condition?

  • Is there risk of objects and tools falling over the edge? If so, are there toeboards installed to prevent these items?

Eliminating the hazard completely is the safest option to protect a roof edge. You can protect the whole perimeter with guardrails, but this may not always be possible or practical. In such cases, you may opt for spot protection in areas that pose direct hazards to the workers and contractors, especially areas where your walking or working surface is near the roof edge.

You can also install post and chain barriers and provide the workers with personal fall protection and horizontal lifelines when working in such dangerous areas. Ensure to first check the advantages and disadvantages of each fall protection before purchasing and installing them.

  1. Rooftop Openings

Perhaps, you may not be expecting roofs to have openings apart from the access points discussed above. Besides, roofs should provide cover from elements and rain. However, some roofs have other openings that are not necessarily access points to the roof. These include skylights and smoke vents. Consider the following factors during your safety audit:

  • Are skylights properly protected with screens or railings?

  • Are all smoke vents properly protected?

  • Are there any small openings that could allow tools and equipment to fall through?

Skylights are normally considered holes in the roof and should be properly guarded. Unguarded smoke vents can be a dangerous hazard, especially to fire personnel that would access the roof in the event of a fire. Workers below the roof can also get injured from objects falling through any of the openings.

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