The warmer summer months are a popular time for homeowners to welcome roofing projects onto their homes. To ensure that the season is not just busy, but long and successful, professional roofing contractors begin with a focus on safety. From driving to the job site, to cleaning up after completion, there are many ways to work safely during the course of any project. Here are few key areas for contractors to remember.
Staying Safe Up Above
Roofing, unlike many other trades, requires crews to work from significant heights. To do so, roofing crews are especially trained in fall safety techniques and tools. In fact, this is one of the main reasons homeowners are advised to avoid roofing their own homes.
Each year in May, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration leads the National Safety Stand Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers and employees to have a direct discussion about general safety, fall Hazards and fall prevention. Participating organizations have included commercial construction, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, unions, the U.S. Military, and more. At the beginning of the busy roofing season, this event is a great way for crews to refresh their skill set.
Plan to Handle Heat
In addition to spending the day at significant elevations, roofing crews are also exposed to serious temperature increases in the summer months. For reference, roofing shingle product tests have found that even on mild, 70°F days, roof temperatures can quickly exceed 120°F by midday.
“Exposure to extreme heat can result in occupational illnesses and injuries,” according to the Centers for Disease Control. “Heat stress can result in heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes. Heat can also increase the risk of injuries in workers as it may result in sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness.”
To work safely in high temperatures, professional roofing contractors need to have a plan in place. These plans will include best practices for avoiding and mitigating exposure to extreme heat. Roofing crews may for instance, plan to start early and clean up before the day’s temperatures peak. They may also take several breaks per hour to drink water and maintain hydration while working in heat. OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have even created a phone app to help crews with tips for handling heat stress.
Avoid Asbestos Exposure
Replacing roofs on old homes, as with other renovation or remodeling projects, may hold a risk of asbestos exposure. Prior to 1970’s, many types of building insulation products were manufactured with asbestos for heat and fire resistance. Asbestos has also been widely publicized as a cause of mesothelioma cancer and other pulmonary diseases.
“Families of roofers,” according to the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, “were also sometimes placed at risk because their loved ones would bring asbestos fibers home on their clothes and shoes from the job. They were then placed at risk of inhaling them.”
This condition can take 30 or 40 years to manifest before showing physical symptoms, so it is often too late to effectively treat the disease once it is diagnosed. Professional roofing contractors will check to be sure that there is no risk to asbestos exposure before tearing opening up the roof deck.
Safety is the top priority of any job site, and especially so for roofing. Homeowners are also encouraged to understand this aspect of the roofing process to recognize qualified crews from inexperienced novices. There are many resources available to roofing crews for education and training, such as the Malarkey Certified Contractor Program.
Malarkey Certified Residential Contractors deliver roofing excellence to homeowners with professionalism, safety, and quality that reflects our roofing products. This certification program requires a step-by-step application process to ensure that contractors are current on the latest industry accepted application procedures and installation techniques. The contractors can additionally badges based on specific criteria, training and overall professional experience.