Building owners and managers in Missouri do not typically know the hazards associated with roof work, nor would they be aware of the safety standards prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. If your job has you spending time on rooftops, it might be a good idea to get familiar with the safety precautions that might save you from harm. If you can recognize potential hazards, you could take mitigating steps to avoid injury.
Another safety precaution is for co-workers to watch each other's backs while working on roofs, and to remain alert. The most significant danger might be complacency, which could set in when workers had spent years working on roofs without injuries or incidents.
Safety authorities recommend asking the following questions before starting a roof work project:
- What method of access would you have to the roof?
- What is the height of the roof?
- What is the slope of the roof?
- Are there guardrails to prevent falls over the edge of the roof?
- What are the potential fall hazards on the roof?
- Are there skylights or other penetrations on the roof?
- Are there secure tie-off points to serve as anchor points for fall arrest systems?
According to OSHA, fall protection for all roof workers includes the following two categories:
- Active fall protection involves workers having to wear harnesses that have lanyards, anchor points to tie them off, and horizontal lifelines onto which workers tie themselves whenever they access the roof.
- Passive fall protection consists of a guardrail system, so-called because once installed, it requires no interaction by roof workers.
Lifelines allow workers to safely navigate the roof without the need to disconnect their fall arrest harnesses.
Most common roof work accidents
Safety training is crucial before getting onto a roof to do repairs. The following hazards exist on most roofs:
- OSHA requires ladders for getting on and off roofs to be fixed to the roof.
- Steep slopes need special precautions to prevent falls over the edge.
- All openings, including skylights, vent covers and hatches must be marked and fitted with guardrails.
- Long-term water damage can cause soft spots that might collapse or buckle when you step on it.
- The lack of guardrails is a deadly risk because focusing on the job can let you get too close to the edge of the roof.
Falling from a rooftop could leave you with life-changing workplace injuries that might prevent you from going back to the same job. Fortunately, the Missouri workers' compensation system provides financial assistance for injured workers. An attorney with experience in this field of the law can provide guidance and support in the quest for maximum benefits, which will likely include compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages and vocational training to prepare you for a different position if necessary.