If you’ve ever climbed up a ladder and stepped onto the roof of your house, then you know it’s not an easy or necessarily safe thing to do. Sliding down a sloped roof, stepping onto a stray nail or even putting your foot through a skylight are just some of the hazards that await you. Now imagine if this was your job but on a much larger scale. From Monday to Friday you install and repair roofs of super stores, warehouses or offices. This is the job of a commercial roofer and it is a dangerous one. In 2014, nearly 40% of all fatalities in the U.S. construction industry were the result of roofers falling. But there are many steps and precautions which roofers could take to lower that statistic. At Workman’s Friend, we appreciate and are grateful for the skills of a commercial roofer. Case in point, our roof at work no longer leaks. Therefore, in gratitude we’ve assembled the following list of safety tips for roofers.
The surest way to guarantee that you’re safe when working on a roof, is evaluating the situation before you get on that ladder. Take a good look around to notice any power lines, or unsafe access areas. If the roof is wet because of rain or snow, reschedule the work for a drier day. Make sure the area around your ladder is taped off and clearly marked. The last thing you need is a child trying to climb your ladder while you’re on the roof. Avoid working in extremely hot or cold temperatures. This kind of climate can sometimes unseal shingles creating a serious fall hazard. Remember to wear all of the safety equipment your company supplies for you. Though it can vary, it usually includes a safety helmet, neon vest, ropes, a roof anchor, toe boards for your boots to ensure you can walk without slipping and protective eyewear.
If you’re not familiar with the ladder you’re using to access the roof, read and follow the directions exactly. Look for electrical hazards such as overhanging power lines before handling the ladder. Never, ever, use a metal ladder near power lines. When climbing up or down always have 3 points of contact on the ladder. That could mean 2 hands and one foot or 2 feet and one hand. Remember to always keep your weight centered and face the ladder when climbing. Inspect your ladder before you get on it, to make sure it is free of debris and is not wet. Never use a step ladder in place of a single ladder.
Nail Gun Safety
A pneumatic nail gun is one of a roofer’s most essential tools, but it can also be a weapon. First and foremost, never point a nail gun at another person, even if it isn’t powered on. Always make sure the safety mechanism is working properly and do not tamper with it. Only pull the gun’s trigger when it is pressed firmly against the material you intend to affix. Never simply shoot nails out of the gun haphazardly, or rest it against your body to prevent misfires. Always make sure to clean, inspect and lubricate your gun before and after every use. If you need to fix or adjust your gun mid-job, make sure it is disconnected from the air supply and powered off.
A Safer Job
The tips mentioned above are only suggestions about how to improve the safety at your jobsite. Many commercial roofing companies have safety manuals and training programs, not to mention the state and federal regulations in place to protect the roofer. However, roofers often overlook the safety precautions just to get the job done and quickly. That’s when things can get dangerous.
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