Don’t Skimp on Safety:<br>Commercial Roofing and OSHA

Don’t Skimp on Safety:
Commercial Roofing and OSHA

Welcome roofers and commercial building owners. Our name is Ridgeworth Roofing, and we are here to help you learn about the basics of commercial roof safety. With 40 years of experience under our belts and hundreds of commercial roof installations, inspections, and maintenance requests in our portfolio, we know all about keeping your roofing team safe.

As commercial roofers, we must keep safety in mind by implementing safety guidelines in everything we do.

Our quick guide below covers all the basics of commercial roof safety for roofers and commercial building owners, including links to some essential resources courtesy of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Commercial Roof Safety 101

Always Follow OSHA Guidelines

The first rule you learn after four decades of commercial roof experience is that safety should always come first.

Before any commercial roofing project begins, follow all Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines. These include having fall protection if on a roof taller than six feet, following proper ladder safety rules, and wearing helmets on the job site.

Remember, these rules are in place for your protection. OSHA inspectors regularly come out to ensure you are following all protection guidelines.

Commercial building owners should also be familiar with these guidelines, as the roofer’s safety standards will also tell you a lot about their roofing standards.

For more information about OSHA’s regulations and tips on following them, check out their Guide to Protecting Roofing Workers.

Lesson 1: Clear Communication from the Beginning

After you’ve gone through the proper safety training and protocols, the next step when working on a new site is to open communication between the building owner, the property manager, and the roofing contractor.

Now is the time to ask plenty of questions. A couple of examples include:

  • What are the potential dangers of a project for those on the roof and those on the ground or in the building? 
  • What safety measures should be part of the overall safety plan?

Remember, every job site is different, which means custom plans for each project. Some of the requirements of a project differ from the next. 

An onsite body of water, for example, might necessitate a rescue plan in case someone falls into it. Prepare for as many situations as possible to protect yourself and your fellow roofers.

Even if the situation seems unlikely, still have a plan in place in case it happens. Building owners and property managers know their surroundings, so they should be able to guide roofers through this process to ensure any potential pitfalls aren’t forgotten about.

After you have a plan, explain it to everyone, including the customer, and adjust as needed if conditions change. 

There’s no such thing as overdoing it regarding the safety of those on the roof and the ground.

Lesson 2: Have the Proper Equipment in Place

On every commercial roof installation and maintenance project, specific equipment needs to be in place to provide maximum safety.

OSHA requires fall protection equipment for work heights of more than six feet, but that changes depending on the project itself. Sometimes a roofer flags the roof’s perimeter, while other projects necessitate guardrails and harnesses.

Also, know that a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) is a must for those working close to the roof’s edge. 

Beyond equipment, a team should always have a designated person watching over those most at risk of a fall. 

Some roofers find it helpful to hire an outside agency to conduct unannounced job site inspections to ensure compliance—if you don’t know when an inspection is coming, you’re more likely to stay on your toes. 

Safety isn’t limited to the roof itself. Areas on the ground where debris from the roof could fall should always be flagged off to protect those below.

If you have questions or concerns about commercial roof safety, contact OSHA, as they have compliance assistance associates trained to help you and your team complete your commercial roofing project safely and efficiently.

Lesson 3: Proper Training is a Necessity

You can have all the guidelines and equipment in the world, but if roofers don’t know how to use them effectively, they won’t work. 

Skilled roofers know how to inspect a job site for potential dangers and maintain it to avoid unnecessary risk. 

Thorough training is essential, and practice makes perfect. Ask your roofing contractor about their safety training certifications and what steps they’ve taken to maximize safety throughout the project.

Regular safety training is a good start. Awareness of fall risk is critical, and employees should receive frequent reminders and refreshers on recognizing dangers and using equipment safely. 

They should also know what to do if something goes wrong and be able to execute that plan quickly and effectively.

As a commercial building owner, keep emergency safety kits nearby in case of an accident. With the proper training, a dangerous, life-threatening situation is preventable.

Lesson 4: Set Up Reminders Throughout the Workday

Safety in all things should be built into the mindset of a roofing team. 

Verbal reminders, signage, and leading by example are all critical for communicating this message. 

When team members pay attention to detail in all aspects of the job, they’re more likely to care about staying safe. 

But people make mistakes, and accidents happen, so roofers should also be prepared for emergencies with first aid training and knowledge of handling a crisis. 

These things become second nature for everyone involved in a project, and everyone is safer.

Commercial building owners can keep an eye out for any signage while the project is underway to ensure everyone stays safe and aligned with OSHA guidelines.

Need help with your commercial roof?

From commercial roof installation to commercial roof maintenance, Ridgeworth Roofing has been a part of the Chicagoland community for over 40 years, helping rebuild and restore the roofs on some of our hometown’s most beautiful buildings.

Do you own a commercial building or need assistance with roofing-related issues? Contact Ridgeworth Roofing today, and one of our trained professionals can get you started.