Fall Protection For Rooftop Maintenance Workers

How fall restraint and fall protection equipment prevent roofing injuries and fatalities and provide compliancy and cost-value benefits.

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Published on: June 7, 2013

Rooftop fall protection can save money and protect workers from accidents when they perform routine rooftop maintenance services. Over the past 30 years, effective protective equipment has reduced fatalities by 60 percent in the United States, and OSHA fines alone could run as high as $70,000 for failing to use proper fall protection. States and municipalities might have their own rooftop-maintenance regulations, and other countries have similar penalties to ensure worker safety.

OSHA Regulations

OSHA requires that each employee working on a surface more than 10-feet high must have protection using a fall arrest system. Many building blueprints now include roof anchors in their structural designs, and building anchors serve multiple purposes for roof maintenance, painting, waterproofing, solar collector maintenance, HVAC repair, satellite and antenna installation, and window washing.

Fall Protection Equipment Makes Inspections and Repairs Safe

Rooftop safety involves taking a proactive approach by installing permanent equipment, conducting regular inspections, ensuring that workers wear their safety gear, and training workers and dedicated supervisors in fall arrest strategies.

  • Safety harnesses provide extra protection for rooftop workers.
  • Safety monitors should supervise the process and instruct workers in ways to prevent falls.
  • Rapid rescue and first aid are an important part of safety because a person could slip out of a loose harness or pass out from restricted blood flow.
  • Properly applied equipment improves efficiency because workers can move freely and do their work quickly.

Building Owners and Business Managers Could Be Liable for Falls

Fall restraint ranks as one of the most important measures that building owners or employers can implement to meet safety goals and provide secure working environments. Rooftop accidents could generate legal liabilities for injuries in addition to the disadvantages of fines, penalties and injured workers, customers or pedestrians.

  1. Proper design and installation depend on the type of roof, elevation and number of maintenance workers who might work on the roof at any given time.
  2. Worker training and proper supervision prove as important as the equipment in reducing or minimizing accidents.
  3. Regular inspections and equipment maintenance are important steps in the safety process.
  4. A traction hoist suspends working platforms for rooftop and exterior maintenance, window washing and other tasks.
  5. Hoists could also provide emergency rescue of trapped workers or those suspended from safety harnesses.
  6. Fall arrest training teaches workers and supervisors to use equipment properly to ensure safety.

Load Testing and Inspections

Load testing of davits, anchors, tiebacks, self powered platforms and other equipment prove vital for effective fall protection. Trained maintenance personnel should inspect and test the systems at least once a year and include load testing of tiebacks and other equipment. Complete re-certification of fall arrest equipment requires the following inspections:

  • Checking hardware components for signs of wear
  • Lubricating moving parts
  • Inspecting self-retracting lifelines, harnesses and tiebacks
  • Checking anchorages for weakness or signs of deterioration
  • Inspecting webbing and cables
  • Checking davit safety devices, lanyards, platforms and safety nets

A Self Powered Platform Could Reduce Safety Risks

Using a self powered platform can lower safety risks if workers receive the proper training and use proper fall protection equipment while working from the platform. Self powered platform safety requires performing regular maintenance and using fall arrest equipment while working on any type of elevated platform.

  1. Self-leveling systems keep platforms level while working.
  2. Portable fire extinguishers could prove crucial for safe operation when working from elevated platforms.
  3. Electrical safety switches automatically stop platforms at regular intervals in cases of power failure.

Fall restraint and fall protection equipment provide cost-value benefits for businesses and landlords because falls are the leading cause of roofing injuries and fatalities. Adequate protection allows people to work safely and productively, and permanent rooftop safety equipment can serve many maintenance, repair and installation purposes.

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