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How Careful Planning Increases Safety


An axiom used often in the military is: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” While this is true of just about any scenario, it probably can best be applied to scenarios involving safety. After all, as mentioned earlier, the vast majority of accidents that occur on construction sites are completely preventable. The reason they still occur is in no small part due to a lack of careful planning before the first brick was laid or the first nail was hammered. The most successful construction teams in terms of safety and performance are those who take the extra time to thoroughly plan out all angles of the task at hand. Not only do these teams suffer fewer on-site accidents, but they also have a better overall reputation for the reliability of their work. Needless to say, the higher a construction job goes, the more dangerous it is. Thus, working on roofs is one of the most dangerous and accident prone construction jobs there are. While you might expect that most accidents involving roof work occur on long jobs or complex jobs such as roof construction, it turns out that the opposite is true. A great many roof-related incidents happen on small jobs, usually requiring few workers and a minimal amount of time. In fact, jobs such as replacing roofing tiles are one of the biggest contributors to construction site accidents. The reason for this is that proper planning is all too often skipped due to the simple nature of the job at hand. Therefore, no matter how big or small the job may be, careful planning should always be step number one. The first goal of any planning is Risk Assessment. Before a single person begins work, the safety of the roof itself should be ascertained. Any weaknesses or other dangers should be discovered and well noted, both on paper and verbally to all team members. Other variables to consider are the roof type, the angle of the roof slope, the height of the roof and the time the job is expected to take. After all, the longer a worker is on the roof, the longer they are exposed to danger.


Careful inspection before starting a project

Careful planning should also be given to the roof access itself. Whether you are using ladders or full-fledged scaffolding, the same attention to detail should be given. Things such as gaps between scaffolding and the roof need to be noted and addressed. All personnel needs to know where to be the most careful. Proper handholds should be available, no matter what kind of access you are using. Ladders should exceed the height of the roof by at least one meter, and scaffolds should have a safety railing to prevent falls. The safety of any roof access equipment must begin from the ground up. All the safety railings and proper heights are for nothing if ladders aren’t properly secured or scaffolds aren’t properly anchored. Thus, before a single person ascends to their lofty job site, time and effort should be spent inspecting every detail of the ground safety of any roof access point. Next, every element of the job, from the roof access to the tools used, to the roof itself, should be inspected for damage or wear. Any cables or ropes that are frayed could give way, causing materials to fall and potentially injure personnel below. Additionally, any weak joints in a ladder or scaffold could cause a person to lose footing and fall, causing serious injury or even death. Thus, every item, including the site itself, should be gone over with a fine tooth comb in order to find and eliminate any potential dangers.


Safety training prior to entering work site

Finally, training is just as important as any other element in the planning stage. In fact, it is at this time that training is most effective at preventing accidents. After all, once a person enters the work site, they become exposed to the dangers and risks inherent in the site itself. Thus, if they aren’t already trained on safety issues, then the chances of them being involved in an accident are exponentially higher. Take the time to make sure all workers know how to safely use any roofing access points, ladders and scaffolds alike. Additionally, make sure that everyone knows the right way to traverse the rooftop itself. Ensuring proper training in this area will go a long way to preventing the vast majority of roof work accidents.

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