Summer is roofing time, and we all know what that means! It’s time to consider safety. This year, there are a whole host of new safety precautions to keep in mind because of COVID-19—and we happen to have a post about staying safe on the job despite the pandemic, if you want to check that out.
But there are other things to keep in mind beyond pandemic precautions. Heat, falling hazards and more means that roofing is a dangerous job. So here are a few additional tips to help keep crews safe!
- Get an Early Start
Roofing is hot work. As summer temperatures climb and the sun beats down on unshaded roofs, the dangers of heat exhaustion or even heat stroke rise dramatically. That, and afternoon rain becomes more common as temperatures climb, too. One of the best ways to protect your crew? Start work earlier to help avoid the afternoon heat as much as possible.
- Make Sure to Hydrate!
With starting earlier, hydration is another essential key to roofing safety. Heat and hard work means a lot of sweat, and that’s a lot of water lost throughout the course of the day. Dehydration can lead to weakness, fainting and other issues. The best thing you can do is keep plenty of chilled bottled water on site so that workers can hydrate as much as necessary. And in keeping with pandemic precautions, make sure that it is individually sized bottled water and not shared coolers to help minimize the spread of pathogens!
- Learn the Symptoms of Heat-Related Ailments
If you know what to look for, then you can monitor workers for things like heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Symptoms can include dizziness, headaches, light-headedness, confusion, irritability, flushed skin, nausea, rapid breathing and heart rate, or the absence of sweating despite the heat. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to stop work and help the person cool off.
- Keep Up Your Usual Safety Measures
As temperatures warm, it’s tempting to abandon safety harnesses or hard hats in an attempt to stay cooler. But these preventative measures are important to prevent injuries caused by falls, or by falling objects. Despite the heat, maintain your usual safety standards in order to minimize injuries.
- Evaluate Your Workflow
The roof is the hottest area in which workers will be working, and for that reason, it’s best to minimize time spent on the roof as much as possible. Of course, this is a tricky thing to do when installing a roof, but by analyzing your crew’s workflow, you may be able to find solutions to keep everyone working while also giving them breaks from the roof itself. For instance, one idea would be to rotate workers, having some work on the roof for a brief time while others perform essential functions on the ground. Then rotate, to give those on the roof a break and a chance to cool off on the ground.
- Don’t Skimp on Breaks
With deadlines looming, crews are often tempted to push hard in order to get the job done on time. But if this leads to heat-related ailments, then this will only result in delays. Don’t skip breaks in the shade just to get the job done faster!
- Watch the Weather
Heat, rain and thunderstorms are the main things to avoid. If temperatures climb too high? Don’t hesitate to take the day off. Better to spend a little longer completing a roof project rather than risking injuries! Rain, too, can often mean that it’s better to stay home. Wet roofs can be slippery, so this means working in the rain increases slip and fall hazards. Similarly, thunderstorms not only bring rain, but the chance of lightning strikes, too. Monitor the weather daily and schedule around it to help everyone stay safe.
- Dress Around the Weather
In the summer, this means a few things. For one, standing on a rooftop exposes workers to direct sunlight and leads to sunburn. Long pants and long sleeves are recommended to combat this—but choose long garments with a nod toward the fabric. Avoid thick fabrics and instead choose light, breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics that will help keep people cool while protecting them from sunburn. Sunscreen is another option, too, though it needs to be reapplied regularly to prevent burns.
Light colors are also a wise choice since darker clothes tend to absorb heat. Go with whites and other light shades. Even though roofing is a dirty job that will stain clothes, it’s still better to stay cool. Along with these clothing choices, also make sure to choose good slip-resistant boots to help minimize slip hazards.
Roofing really can be a dangerous job, especially in hot weather. But if you follow the tips above, you’ll be able to minimize accidents and injuries no matter what the weather forecast has in store!