Advanced Planning Is Vital for a Safe and Successful InstallationPaul Casseri, Product Manager
As a professional roofing contractor, your planning affects the company’s bottom line, the safety of your crew and the efficient, profitable operation of your business. Preparation for a successful job should include checking weather conditions and ensuring that all safety issues are considered and addressed.
Roofing installers are exposed to the sun, wind and rain. Their work involves carrying heavy objects, using power tools and working at a steep angle. Preparation is key to a successful outcome.
Hot Weather Issues
Roof installers are at the mercy of the weather. Scheduling an early start is essential in warmer months. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), overexposure to heat causes more than 600 deaths per year. Plan accordingly so most roofing work can be completed before the peak heat hours. Starting early in the day is also a good way to avoid the rain that often comes in the afternoon, especially in the South. With diligent attention to the weather, your crew gets more work completed and doesn’t have to wait out a storm in the truck.
Continuously working in the sun’s ultraviolet rays is physically taxing and can have dangerous mental consequences as well. The best way for roofers to survive the summer heat is to stay hydrated. Water keeps the body cool and prevents it from overheating. Have plenty of water available for your crew – cool is preferred, and ice cold is not recommended as it can cause cramps and digestive problems.
Be sure your roof crew knows how to dress for hot weather. Shirts designed to keep the wearer cool, such Dri-Fit™ or ClimaCool™, are made of breathable material that wicks moisture from the body, making it more comfortable to work on a roof in hot days.
Cold Weather Issues
Just as in hot months, prepping for cold weather requires planning.
Check the weeklong weather forecast for storms that could cause delays. Start work later in the morning to allow the warmth of the sun to warm the jobsite.
In the winter, layers of ClimaWarm™ and Hyperwarm™ apparel can help combat colder temperatures by providing warmth, breathability and protection. Be sure each roofer also wears appropriate shoes that will have a good grip on a cold surface.
Research the minimum temperature installation requirements for all roofing materials. Many shingle manufacturers advise not installing their products in weather below 45 degrees F. Carefully examine all your equipment because some items, such as compressors and other pneumatic tools, are susceptible to condensation that could freeze.
Prepare a Safe Jobsite
When preparing for work, jobsite safety tops the list. Let your crew know you plan to follow standard safety regulations to the letter and won’t cut corners on procedures. Roofing contractors have found their businesses fined, or even closed, because of legal action taken after a serious safety incident.
According to OSHA, falls account for almost one-third of serious injuries and deaths in construction work each year. Check in advance to ensure the roof work area is free of debris. In addition to using protective headgear, everyone in the crew should wear footwear that provides the best traction on asphalt shingles. Inspect safety harnesses, nets and guardrails to ensure they are ready to be deployed. OSHA just released an increase in penalties that will take effect August 1, 2016 with fines to increase 78 percent effective August 1. A steep fine can cause heartache for any business and the cheapest solution is to keep everyone safe.
Check all tools and equipment before using them. Test all power tools to make sure they are clean and lubricated, and inspect cords and hoses for breaks or leaks. Do not allow workers to use hammers with damaged handles or heads. Be sure workers have training in the proper use of a tool, whether manual, electric or air powered, before allowing them to use it.
Accidents are likely to occur when using a damaged or makeshift ladder. Tying a ladder off at the top of a plywood brace is another common cause of ladder accidents. A ladder should be placed on firm, level ground, rest against a solid structure and extend 3 feet above the roof eave to provide a secure point for moving from the ladder to the deck.
Be aware of overhead wires because electricity can arc to a metal ladder, even if it is several feet away. Use a wood or fiberglass ladder when working near wires. For the safety of all workers, identify potentially dangerous power lines and underground hazards and mark them with warning signage.
Let the Job Begin
Success in the roofing business starts with making smart decisions. Start each installation with a plan and make sure the crew follows it. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”