The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees and regulates safety-related matters for employees within the United States workforce. In terms of OSHA commercial roofing regulations, there are both mandates and guidelines offered by OSHA relative to safe practices within the roofing industry.
Just as with other legal matters in the U.S, OSHA should be taken seriously because ignoring them can have serious consequences. Roofing employers are responsible to familiarize themselves with applicable OSHA standards and ensure their workers and worksites are in compliance with them at all times. Failure to do this can result in hefty penalties for companies—and serious injury or death for workers.
A Breakdown of OSHA Roofing Guidelines
- Fall Protection: It is an OSHA requirement that workers who are exposed to the risk of falling 6 feet or more—if protections are not in place along the edges of the surface they are on—must have fall protection. Such fall protection equipment must be in good working order and properly set up.
- Fall Protection Training: Employers must also provide training relative to fall protection for all workers who might be exposed to a fall hazard. Workers must additionally be retrained if prior training has become obsolete, whether due to alterations in work conditions or changes to the fall protection equipment itself. Employers must further certify and properly document that this training has been completed.
- Roof Holes: Another facet of fall protection relates to roof holes, including skylights, that are 6 feet or more from the ground or the next level of a building. The coverings over such holes are not typically sturdy enough to hold the weight of a person. Such holes and their attendant coverings should be appropriately covered and guarded to prevent falls.
- Surface Safety: An employer is accountable for making sure a roof has enough structural integrity to support workers before the workers are permitted to walk on the roof. Roof surfaces should also be inspected for slip hazards that may be present due to water, snow, ice or other causes.
- Weather: Weather conditions should be monitored by an employer, and the employer should consider suspending roofing work in the event of unsafe weather conditions. Examples of hazardous weather conditions include high winds; rain and snow, which can make surfaces slippery; and extreme cold that can cause workers to become clumsy due to numbed hands and feet.
- Impalement: Any impalement hazard located on the ground beneath roof edges or other places workers could fall from should be removed or secured.
- Location of Materials: For workers performing carpentry work on a roof, OSHA stipulates their work-related materials should be kept “conveniently close” to them. In the cases of other kinds of roofing work, materials cannot be kept less than 6 feet from the roof’s edge.
Regarding work-related matters for which OSHA has not put specific standards in place, an employer is responsible to adhere to the mandates of the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause. This clause states that employers must provide “a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees” (www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=3359&p_table=OSHACT).
Within the Choice Roof Contractor Group, we care deeply about the safety of our member companies and their employees. We strongly advocate that our members and their workers obtain OSHA training and stay current on OSHA guidelines. We also encourage open dialog within the group regarding how members are efficiently keeping their crews safe on a day-to-day basis.
The subject of safety is one we cover during the private dinner we host for our members at Conklin’s MR roof systems training. For more information, visit Commercial Roof Training with Support & Knowledge from Successful Contractors.