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What kind of fall protection is needed for residential roofers?

Falls are the cause of 20% of all job related injuries. Of workers killed by falls, 54% had no access to fall protection and 23% had fall protection equipment but were not using it. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) consistently cites more companies for fall protection violations than any other issue.

So, when is fall protection required on residential roofs?

A number of these accidents and fatalities occurred during residential construction and roofing. There may be a point of confusion regarding which, if any, OSHA regulations apply to residential work. However, OSHA clearly states that residential construction and roofing is held to safety standards.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard 1926.501(b)(13) defines the duty to have fall protection in residential construction as the following: “Each employee engaged in residential construction activities 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above lower levels shall be protected by guardrail systems, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system unless another provision in paragraph (b) of this section provides for an alternative fall protection measure. Exception: When the employer can demonstrate that it is infeasible or creates a greater hazard to use these systems, the employer shall develop and implement a fall protection plan which meets the requirements of paragraph (k) of 1926.502.”

The best and most common setup for residential roof fall protection is a standard bucket kit. A bucket kit can be found at your local hardware or big box store. Malta Dynamics sells a bucket kit that can be found here.

A standard bucket kit includes a standard reusable roof anchor, a vertical lifeline assembly and a full body harness. Typically when you are using a standard bucket kit on a residential roof, you’ll want to work in fall restraint due to your clearance on a residential roof.

There are two forms of fall protection restraint; passive and active.

Passive is where a worker does not use a personal fall arrest system (PFAS). Some forms of passive fall protection are guardrails or barricades placed near an edge. Relating this to outside holiday decorations would be decorating elevated windows from inside the home.

Active Fall Restraint involves the worker wearing a full body harness and complete personal fall arrest system. In the case of holiday decorations a good solution would be to utilize a roofer’s bucket kit. The roofer’s bucket kit includes a reusable roof anchor suitable for most residential applications as well as a vertical lifeline assembly to use as a positioning device and a full body harness.

Training on personal fall protection should be utilized for anyone that is working in residential roofing. Residential roofing is subject to OSHA standards and unprotected workers can be cited and fined the same as commercial construction.

Most bucket kits have a tutorial inside of them and should be read and practiced. A lot of residential construction companies have a small number of employees, and that can oftentimes make it difficult to obtain training needed. However, it is definitely worth your while to have all of your employees properly trained.

Malta Dynamics understands that simply purchasing fall protection equipment isn’t always enough to keep your workers safe. Your team needs to know how to properly use, inspect and store safety equipment to prevent injury, and your equipment must be properly maintained and kept in good repair. Malta Dynamics offers two different training programs—with on-site options available for groups—to teach your team how to develop, use and document your safety program. Each training course can be customized based on your company’s specific needs.

A four-hour awareness course is designed for individuals with frequent (daily or weekly) exposure to fall hazards. Participants gain knowledge and skills necessary to identify and avoid hazards associated with elevated work locations. The course features a series of presentations, demonstrations and hands-on exercises.

More information on this course along with registration can be found here.

Almost every person working in residential construction has at least a couple of stories of when they “almost” fell or when something “almost” happened. Oftentimes there will be injuries or in some cases fatalities because the training hasn’t been provided for the employees to know exactly what equipment they should be using and how to use it.

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