Roofing is one of the most dangerous areas of the construction industry. In fact, 34 percent of fatal falls happen in roof work, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. As a result, the government agency recently urged contractors to be aware of the dangers of roof tarping. The OSHA standards for roof tarping outlines the dangers and the ways in which you can protect your workforce.
What is Roof Tarping?
Roof tarps are often used in the construction process to cover and protect a building against the effects of inclement weather. Just like any other part of construction, there is a right way and a wrong way to work with a tarp.
OSHA Standards for Roof Tarping
OSHA requires every employer to protect their employees at work. This includes addressing and taking steps to remove risk associated with any workplace hazards, like roof tarping.
According to OSHA standards, contractors must provide fall protection, scaffolding equipment, head protection and safety training, where applicable.
Identifying the Hazards
Your first step is to understand the hazards your employees will be dealing with. You should never have them install a tarp during unsafe weather conditions.
Be particularly aware of potential electrical hazards, like downed power lines. If you see one, contact the utility company immediately.
You should also be able to recognize a damaged roof when you see one. Structural damage is a leading cause of falls in the construction industry.
Regardless of the conditions, you will need to protect your workers with fall protection systems, like guardrails or safety nets.
Installing the Tarp
You should never attempt to install a roof tarp while it is windy or rainy. As your workers install a tarp, make sure they take basic precautions, such as wearing hard hats and eye protection.
First, debris should be removed from the roof. To access the roof, lean the ladder at a safe angle that is at a 4:1 ratio (one foot away from the building at the bottom for each four feet of ladder length to the roof eave) and extended three feet above the roof’s edge.
Workers should be careful to avoid tripping hazards, like vent stacks, satellite dishes and cables. They should never walk on the tarp, because it can be slippery, especially when wet.
The OSHA standards for roof tarping are important, because employers are obligated to provide working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm. The government agency asks that you provide information and training about workplace hazards and methods to prevent them at all times.