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Safety Toolbox Talk - Working on Fragile roof at height

Safety Toolbox Talk - Working on Fragile roof at height
Safety Toolbox Talk - Working on Fragile roof at height

Safety Toolbox Talk - Working on Fragile roof at height

Working on fragile roof at height is risky activity due to high probability of damage of roof as the fragile roof is not designed for withstanding the load of workers. Fall from height are the foremost causes of death in the construction work.
The fragile roof means that the roof is not designed to withstand the load of workers and has material strength only to resist the force of bad weather. Fiber-cement, glass or roof-lights or wired glass, reinforced plastics, asbestos, corroded metal sheet, etc are used as roofing material and prone to fail under weight of workers.
Working at height means that there is a risk of fall from one level to a lower level and may cause physical or personal injury.

Regulations - Working on fragile roof

According to OSHA 29 CFR 1926.501(b), workers with all fall protection and prevention measures will be authorized to work on fragile roof only  when the roof have the essential quality, structural integrity, and adequate strength.
A walking or working surface of 1.8 m or more above a lower level must be protected against falls by suitable guardrail, safety net or individual fall arrester aid.

Hazards - Working on fragile roof

Here are the main hazards associated with working on fragile roof at height
Height: Vertical distance directly proportional to the consequences/ injury severity.
Types of roofing material: Non-reinforced fiber-cement, glass or roof-lights or wired glass those are painted and unable to see, reinforced plastics may become brittle, old asbestos sheet, corroded metal sheet, etc are liable to damage due to load of working peoples.
Degraded material: Hazard associated with the state of the structure in which the workers work.
Pitch roof and unprotected edge: People working on an unprotected surface.
Inappropriate / unsecured access to roof: Includes lack of access, unsecured access, and unstable access.
Bad weather: Rain, wet surface, strong wind, freezing conditions, etc.
Unsecured/loose material on roof: loose or unsecured material can fall on people.
Unsafe practices: Throwing material from roof or creating an obstacle due to piling or improper placement of equipment in the work area.
Incompetence: Incompetent people can walk directly on fragile roof without judging the structural support.

Risk - working on fragile roof

Falls through roof and falling objects are the main risks associated with working on fragile roof. Due to the high probability and serious consequences such as fatality, working on fragile roof at heights is generally treated as a high-risk activity.
A person who falls from a height can cause death, injury to the neck or spine, multiple fractures, and paralysis.
Dropping objects onto people can cause serious injury such as death, brain damage, paralysis, multiple fractures, etc.

Safe work practices and controls

1. Try to avoid working at height, if possible, by alternate arrangement. If this is unavoidable, plan and organize work through the work permit system and the Job Safety Analysis, assess the condition of roof before commencement of work. Climatic conditions must be assessed, and work should not be planned in bad weather.
2. Make sure all personal protective equipment used for working on fragile roof at height must be certified and inspected before use.
3. Use roof ladders or crawling boards or staging on the roof surface for stepping by worker. Crawling boards or roof ladder must be laid across the roof surface considering the position of underlying load bearing support of roof. It helps to distribute the load of workers over wide area.
4. Provide perimeter fall protection or a guardrail system on the roof. Cover or barricade the openings or hole if exist.
5. Workers with health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, psychosis, epilepsy, or one of these diseases should be considered unfit for working at height.
6. Provide safety net underneath the roof and all workers must wear full body safety harness.
7. Ensure that full body harness is always properly anchored / connected. The lifeline must be used to move from one point to another.
8. Ensure adequate and secured access to the roof.
9. The area under and around the work area must be barricaded with warning tape and a causation boards must be displayed to restrict man movement.
10. All hand tools, equipment, and materials necessary for use on fragile roof must be properly secured. Be sure to use tool bags to keep tools and secure small tools such as hammers, wrenches, etc. with appropriate means during use.
11. Do not throw any materials, including tools, from a height. Use a rope for safe delivery.
12. Before leaving the work area, make sure there is no loose material on the roof.

Personal protective Equipment

Basic PPEs:  Ensure use of Helmet, safety shoes, safety goggles, hand gloves, high visible vest, etc
Special PPEs: Special PPEs like full body safety harness along with anchorage, connectors, lifeline, self-retracting lifeline / lanyard, shock absorber, i.e. shock-absorbing lanyard, snap hook and fall protector or rope Grabs.

Toolbox talk interaction Questionnaires on working at height

1. For repair fragile roof, what would be the first action before commencing the work?
2. Why roof ladder or staging or crawling board required while working on fragile roof?
3. Does the full body harness help prevent falls or minimize the fall distance?
4. What is meant by ‘lifeline’ and when does it require?
5. What is edge fall protection?
6. Why do you require fall arrester?
7. When and where to provide safety net?
9. What is the purpose of a full body harness?
10. What is meant by fragile roof?

Working on fragile roof is the most dangerous job because it presents a high risk of serious injury. An appropriate fall prevention and protection system with an adequate risk assessment, work permit, adoption of best practices and competent supervision must be implemented. Roof ladder, staging, crawling board, edge fall protection and use of full body harness with other accessories can prevent fall accidents. Record of Toolbox talk on working on fragile roof must be maintained.

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