Numerous accidents occur on construction sites every year, resulting in injuries to construction workers. These injuries are often serious, changing the lives of workers and their families forever. Even worse, many accidents result in the deaths of workers. These deaths leave behind wives and children who will never see their loved one again. This situation is even more pertinent on job sites that require workers to perform tasks at great heights. Today we present several tips and precautions which will enable you to increase the safety of your crew immediately and without significant investment.
Precautions to Help Prevent Falls
The old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” goes a long way in defining the importance of planning in regards to safety on a work site. Of all the tips and tricks to minimizing falls and other accidents while working on roofs, the best one is to prevent issues from happening in the first place. Any action or measure that can prevent an accident is one well worth taking. While it would be safe to say that such measures are worth their weight in gold, the truth is they are worth even more than that. Any measure that can prevent an accident may save a life, and there is no sum of money, gold or otherwise, that can equal that.
Work on a roof without actually stepping onto it
One of the main causes of falls from roofs is weak points in the roof. This can be the result of age, damage or poor materials being used during the initial construction. The most important thing to do is to identify any of these dangers prior to starting any roofing project. In the event that the roof being worked on has weaknesses or other such dangers the best plan is to use Mobile Elevated Working Platforms (MEWPs) whenever possible. These platforms, often referred to as ‘cherry pickers,’ enable a team to work on a roof without actually having to step onto the roof. This eliminates any accidents due to the hazards inherent in an old or damaged roof. Ideally, such mobile platforms would enable a crew to perform roof work from the underside of the roof, allowing them total roof access while staying completely safe.
Instating barriers around the perimeter
Holes created during construction work is another variable that frequently causes fall-related deaths. Tiles, boards and other materials may be temporarily removed in order to be replaced, creating a weak point that did not exist prior to the start of the project. These hazards are especially dangerous as workers would be confident in the roof’s safety as the result of any pre-project inspections and safety briefings. It is critical, therefore, to take extra steps to prevent these newly created hazards from posing any potential threat. One way to address the issue is to surround any weakened areas with a caution tape or other visible barrier. While this barrier won’t prevent a person from stepping onto the area, it will serve as a clear warning of the danger that may occur in doing so.
Cover any weakened areas to prevent accident
The best way to prevent weakened areas from causing accidents, however, is to place a cover over any such area. This cover should be extra stable and sturdy, capable of supporting twice the weight of workers and materials expected to be in the area at any given time. Using brightly colored materials or a bright border will add a level of safety by making the cover stand out and advertising the danger it is intended to protect against. Caution tape or other visible warning barriers should also be erected around skylights or other roof features that are not designed to withstand a person’s full body weight. The time it takes to construct these barriers is well worth it as it could prevent unnecessary damage, injury or even death.
Manage the flow and logistics of operation
Controlling the logistics of workers and supplies on a roof at any given time will also go a long way to significantly reducing the risk of roof related accidents. Restricting the time any worker spends on the roof will help them to stay focused on where they are. The longer a person is on a roof, the more familiar he will become with the roof environment. Eventually, they may forget the inherent dangers where they are and make the only mistake they need to change their lives forever. By reducing the time a person spends on the roof, you cause them to constantly be reminded of where they are and the safety measures they need to practice. This will help to eliminate accidents caused by a simple lack of concentration.
The provision of personal protective equipment
The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is another sure way to help keep the risk of work site accidents to a minimum. In the case of rooftop projects, harnesses and other such safety equipment should be utilized without exception. Regardless of the time, expense and hassle involved in such measures, the ends will always justify the means. Far too many serious injuries and deaths have occurred in areas where a harness would have kept the worker completely safe. Thus, PPE should be a priority, no matter how small or simple the project may be.
Training workers in protective equipment usage
In addition to providing the proper PPE, training should be regularly incorporated into the routine of the construction crew. More often than not, PPE training is little more than a dreaded element of orientation that the average person just skims over in order to get orientation done and over with. The result of this is that most people get an incomplete picture of how PPE works and when it should be used. Even worse, this incomplete picture becomes ever hazier the longer the person works for that given company. In order to provide full and effective knowledge of PPE, regular training should be given to all personnel. This training should take the form of refresher courses, including tests to ensure all workers fully understand the material. Additionally, drills should be regularly administered, allowing workers to demonstrate their proficiency with any and all available PPE.