Safety Check: Is Your Roof Fall-Proof?

Did you know that 36.9% of workplace accidents happen in the construction industry and that falls are the leading cause? Take a look at these statistics:

  • Fall accidents make up 38.8% of total fatalities in the construction industry (2015)
  • Falls from roofs account for 39% of these accidents
  • Falls from scaffolds (33%) and ladders (27%) come in 2nd and 3rd on the list

Over the years, OSHA has implemented various rules to improve and ensure workplace safety, especially in the construction industry. In fact, late last year, OSHA issued a ruling specifically for work on low slope roofs, or “a roof having a slope less than or equal to 4 in 12 (vertical to horizontal).” The rule states that “employers must use a different type of fall protection measure depending on the distance they work from the edge of the roof.”

Work Zone-Specific Requirements

Following the abovementioned OSHA ruling, three distinct work zones were defined, together the safety requirements recommended for each.

Area: Less than 6 feet from the roof edge
Recommendation: A conventional fall protection system, like a fixed guardrail or linear system.

Area: 6 feet to less than 15 feet from the roof edge
Recommendation: 1) A conventional fall protection system, and;
2) An alternative safety measure called a “designated area” for work that is “infrequent or temporary”

Area: 15 feet or more from the roof edge
Recommendation: 1) A conventional fall protection system, or;
2) A “designated area”*

*If the tasks performed in this zone are both “infrequent and temporary,” employees do not have to provide any fall protection.

Definition Of Terms

For purposes of OSHA’s new rule, the terms “infrequent” and “temporary” are defined as follows:

  • Infrequent work refers to tasks or jobs performed only occasion, when necessary, and at sporadic intervals. This includes annual maintenance and/or servicing of equipment, monthly or quarterly replacement of batteries or HVAC filters, or addressing equipment outages.
  • Temporary work means that the time workers need to finish their task is brief. These short tasks include those that workers are able to perform in less time than it takes to install conventional fall protection, as well as work that can be completed at one time rather than repeatedly.

When the duration of the task is short and the frequency is very minimal, OSHA believes worker exposure to fall hazards is very limited.

Here’s an infographic by Rooftop Anchor on edge distance and safety.

RTA Edge Distance Infographics

Click to download the complete documentation of this new OSHA ruling here.

If you need help with OSHA compliance, we will come to you. We provide architects and engineers with project specifications to ensure they’re using the right fall protection systems.

Let us earn your business. Call Rooftop Anchor at 800-411-3914 or set up a free appointment using this link today.