Trained Professionals Using:Protective ClothingPersonal Protection Equipment (PPE)Personal Fall-Arrest SystemsFall ProtectionLadder SafetyGuardrailsFire Protection
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Safety plays a huge role in both the commercial and residential roofing trade and it is important that every roofing contractor fully trains their workers to prepare them for working in the field. All workers must comply with strict safety standards and be aware of their surroundings at all times. When it comes to safety, Infinite Roofing strive for perfection.
In order for an employee to be walking or working on a surface that has an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet or more above a lower level, they must be protected. The way that these employees can be protected from falling is through the use of guardrails, safety nets or personal fall-arrest systems (PFAs). These are known as the three fall protection options for all of the trades working on low-slope roofs. However, for roofing work that is on a steep-slope roof, there are other fall protection options that exist under OSHA rules. If a roofing contractor is working on a steep-slope roof the fall-protection options would generally be guardrails with toeboards, safety nets, and personal fall-arrest systems.
Personal Fall-Arrest Systems (PFAs)
A personal fall-arrest system, which can be shortened to PFA, is defined by OSHA as a system that is used to arrest the fall of a roofing contractor from a working level. A PFA usually consists of an anchor, connectors and a body harness and may usually include a lanyard, lifeline, and a deceleration device or a suitable combination of these. The lifelines must be protected against being cut or abraded. Self-retracting lifelines and lanyards that would automatically limit free-fall from a distance of 2 feet or less must be able to sustain a minimum tensile load of 3,000 pounds. PFAs must be rigged so that employees cannot fall more than 6 feet or contact any lower level. In hoist areas, they must limit an employee’s movements to the edges. All of these factors must be inspected before each use as well as being removed and inspected each time they are actually used to arrest a fall. The purpose of this system is so that it can be able to bear a fall impact of at least 5,000 pounds. A program or some sort of plan of action has to be in place in the event of a rescue for any employee who falls. There are many regulatory requirements regarding the strength of the PFA system components, including connectors, lanyards, and lifelines, harnesses and anchorages.
Ropes and straps in lifelines, lanyards and the strength components of the body harness must be made of synthetic fiber and free of cuts and abrasions. When vertical lines are used, each employee must be attached to a separate lifeline.
Body belts and harnesses must not be used to hoist materials. Body belts are not permitted for the use as fall-protection devices, though they still may be used in a positioning-device system which are devices that allow a worker supported on a vertical surface to work with both hands free. Body belts generally allow the transmission of greater arresting forces to a smaller surface area on the body than a body harness does, which often can result in a greater likelihood of injury to a worker who falls. To be worn correctly, the attachment must be at the back. Similarly, harness D-rings must be located at the back between the worker’s shoulder blades.
The amount of ladders that are needed is determined often by the number of people who need access to the roof or other surfaces. If there are fewer than 25 people, generally only one ladder is needed unless there is traffic in both directions, in which case either a double-cleated ladder or two ladders are needed. For more than 25 people, on the other hand, two ladders must be provided even if the traffic flow is mostly in one direction.
Ladders must always be used only for their intended purposes and kept free of oil, grease or anything else that can create a slipping hazard. Ladders should always be inspected by an adequate person on a regular basis and after any incident that might affect the incorruption of the ladder. If there were to be any kind of defect to the ladder, it should be taken off the job site immediately. If repairs are made, the ladder must be restored to its original condition before using it again. A defective ladder should be cut up to prevent use by workers unaware of any defect or damage. Ladders should not be painted because paint may hide small cracks or other defects. Ladders are classified by exactly how much load they can support. As a local roofing contractor, more than likely you would need a more heavy-duty classification that can support your body weight and the weight of any materials that’s on board with the roofing contractor.
When a worker puts a ladder in position to climb to a higher surface, there are several requirements to ensure the ladder is safely in place. The ladder feet should be placed on the ground, making sure the surface is level and not slippery. The ladder should also not be placed in front of any closed doors that can open toward the ladder.
Each employee needs to be trained about the hazards and correct use of ladders. A large percentage of workers’ compensation claims result from falls not only off roofs and scaffolds but also off ladders. All employees should know about fall hazards and the correct procedures for the erection, use, and maintenance of ladders and stairways. Everyone using a ladder should be aware of the maximum intended loads of the various types of ladders and requirements of the OSHA standard. This training should be provided as often as necessary to ensure employees understand and retain the required knowledge for using ladders and stairways safely.
Guardrails must have a top rail height of between 39 inches to 45 inches above the working surface and must have mid-rails installed midway between the top rail and the working surface. Midrails, screens or panels must be in place anytime there is no parapet wall at the guarded edge that is at least 21 inches high. The top rail must be able to support a 200 pound weight without deflecting downward to less than 39 inches; the mid-rail must support at least 50 pounds of force in a downward or outward direction. Toeboards cannot be more than ¼ inch off the surface and must be at least 3 ½ inches high nominal 1x4 or 2x4 lumber, usually. Guardrails may be made of wire, rope, or aircraft cable if it is at least ¼ inch thick and flagged at a minimum of 6-foot intervals. Openings in the guardrail system for access points and material handling areas must be guarded and blocked off when not being used. Some additional requirements that apply to the use of guardrail systems to protect specific hazards are discussed in more detail by the OSHA.
Fire Prevention - Liquefied Petroleum Gas
Liquefied petroleum gas is usually used in the roofing industry in order to heat kettles and torches. The reason being that liquefied petroleum is a compressed gas it is usually stored in a small container. Liquefied petroleum gas is able to expand at the ratio of 270:1 which means that one liquid drop of liquefied petroleum gas would expand 270 times greater in volume. LP gas collects in low-lying areas because its vapor density is heavier than air. Employees should be warned that if they suspect a leak in a cylinder, they must not use fire to attempt to find the hole. Instead, they are to use soapy water and look for bubbles.
Employees should not attempt to extinguish fires involving LP gas. If an LP gas fire breaks out, employees should evacuate the area immediately and call the fire department. Fighting an LP gas fire requires specialized training that only the fire department has received. Trying to fight an LP fire on your own could create larger hazards.
Fire Prevention - Torch-applied Roofing Material
Torch-applied roofing materials can present a serious fire hazard to local roofing contractors and building owners. Sometimes the hazards are obvious, such as torching to a combustible deck or near flammable liquids, while other hazards are less obvious, such as torching around drains or penetrations where flames can be drawn into a building.
Whenever working with torch-applied roofing materials, fire watch inspections should be conducted for at least two hours after the work has been completed and the last torch has been turned off.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Employers are required to provide proper PPE for their employees or ensure the equipment and clothing owned by employees provides adequate protection. Required PPE includes but is not limited to protective coverings or shielding for a worker’s head, eyes, face, hands, arms, legs, torso, and feet. PPE is needed to reasonably protect a worker against injury or impairment from inhalation, absorption or physical contact as a result of a hazardous process or environment, chemical or radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration specifies some types of PPE but not others, so some employer judgment may be required regarding PPE use.
OSHA specifies that any employee working in an area where there is a potential danger of head injury must wear a hard hat. Potential dangers set out in the regulation include injury from impact, falling or flying objects, or electrical shocks or burns.
Eye & Face Protection
The eyes and face are extremely sensitive, and any blunt trauma, chemical exposure or radiation can cause irreversible damage, especially to eyesight. For this reason, OSHA has provided specific guidelines for the selection of eye and face protection.
OSHA requires employees to wear appropriate hand protection when they are exposed to hazards related to the work process with which they are involved, the work environment, chemical or radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants. Hand protection must be selected to prevent injury from the absorption of chemicals or other physical contacts that could cause cuts, abrasions, punctures, burns or other injuries.
There are no specific requirements for the types of gloves to be worn, but OSHA’s non mandatory guidelines, as well as the collective experience of the roofing industry, have provided some recommendations for proper glove selection.
For general roofing work, which includes handling all types of roofing materials, carrying equipment and dealing with hot asphalt, leather gloves are appropriate, as are some kinds of heavy cotton gloves, preferably with leather palms. For application of chemical solvents and adhesives, neoprene, butyl, PVC, rubber or nitrile gloves should be used to prevent absorption. Care and research must be taken in selecting gloves for chemical resistance because not all gloves are resistant to every solvent, cleaner or adhesive used in roofing. Many chemical-resistant gloves can become uncomfortable, especially on hot days, so some are made with liners or light cotton gloves can be worn underneath to wick away perspiration. Protection during sheet-metal installation or removal can be provided by gloves with tear-resistant fibers.
Maximum safety in the roofing workplace requires full-body covering: a long-sleeved, button-down shirt, buttoned at the cuffs and within one button of the neck and tucked into pants. Long sleeves are essential in protecting a worker’s arms, and the button-down style allows for easy removal in case of an emergency to prevent extended contact with hot or caustic materials.
To protect the legs, workers must wear long pants. Because cuffs are ideal pooling locations for substances such as hot bitumen, pants should not have cuffs. Kneepads are another useful protection device. Many types of work require employees to spend long periods on their knees. Workers will be more comfortable and can reduce knee aggravation by using protective knee coverings.