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Preventing Falls During Residential Roof Repair

Many roofing contractors choose to grow their roofing business by repairing roof damage, such as missing or cracked shingles and minor leaks, on residential properties. While cost-effective, these types of repairs require workers to operate on existing roofs that already show signs of structural deterioration. That’s why it’s important to evaluate the hazards you may be facing when working on roof repairs and know the measures to take in order to reduce the risk for falls. 

In this brief article, a roofing attorney from Illinois covers the methods provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Fact Sheet on reducing the risk for falls during residential roof repair. 

Related: Growing Your Business with Minor Roof Repairs 

Install or Locate Existing Anchors

One of the most important steps in reducing the risk of a fatal fall is installing or locating existing anchors on the roof to tie off the lifeline for a fall arrest system. Most existing residential roofs will not have permanent anchors available, but if anchors are available, it is crucial to ensure that they are inspected by a qualified person to determine if they are solid, well-fixed into the frame beneath, and able to support the weight of a fallen worker. Existing anchors can be located by inspecting the last row of shingles or the ridge cap from the ground level. 

If the roof does not have any existing anchors, workers should install new anchors by fixing them to the rafter structure or truss, as the sheafing is not capable of providing adequate support. With either new or existing anchors, it is of the utmost importance to make sure that the anchor meets the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.502. Any anchor used for the attachment of personal fall arrest equipment must be capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds per attached worker. 

Related: All About Anchor Points

Take Caution at the Roof’s Edge

If the damaged section is along the edge of the roof, there are multiple options for workers to reduce their risk of fatal falls. First, if possible, the worker may reach the area of deteriorated roof from an aerial lift or scaffold. Different types of lifts, including scissor and aerial, are available for different types of roofs and the tasks involved in the repair. Each provides a stable, elevated platform from which the worker can safely perform the repair. 

If lifts are not available or appropriate for the job, external scaffolds can also provide suitable protection for workers during roof repair. Pumpjack scaffolds, in particular, offer a secure platform for the worker that can be raised or lowered depending on the task performed. Guardrails installed along the open side of the scaffolds provide additional fall protection for the worker. Scaffolds also function well when working farther up on the roof, as the top rail can be extended above the surface of the roof. 

If you would like to speak with an experienced roofing attorney in Illinois, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.