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Safety Toolbox Talk - working on pitched or sloping roof

Safety Toolbox Talk - working on pitched or sloping roof
Safety Toolbox Talk - working on pitched or sloping roof

Safety Toolbox Talk - working on pitched or sloping roof

Working on pitched or sloping roof possess high risk because falls from the roof edges may cause serious injury even when the roof space are low, like single floor. Worker can slip on roof and build up speed as he moves down the slope and then projected off the edge which adds to the force of impact with ground and may cause serious injury.
Pitched or slopping roof means the roof with pitch greater than 10 degree. Falls are the foremost cause of work-related injuries and fatalities among workers working on roof.

Regulations – working on slope roof

According to OSHA 29 CFR 1926.501(b) (10) and (11), workers on slope roof can work only when they fulfill below requirements.
1. Workers must be protected from falling by suitable means of fall protection and prevention. They must be competent and well aware about hazards of working on pitched roof.
2. Guardrails must be provided at the prereferral edge of the roof.
3. Safety net, personal fall arrester system with full body harness are must.
4. Warning line system and safety monitoring system must be provided.

Hazards - Working on slope roof

Here are the main hazards associated with working on sloping roof at height
Height: Vertical distance directly proportional to the consequences/ injury severity.
Faulty or damaged fall protection equipment: Damaged, uncertified,  inadequate setup of fall protection equipment are hazards may be lead to accidents.
Steep slope: Steep sloping roof may lead to slip hazard
Degraded material: Hazard associated with the state of the structure in which the workers work.
Unprotected edge: People working on an unprotected roof surface may slip and fall.
Unsecured access to roof: Inadequate and unsecured access may lead to fall of worker.
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 on the roof.
Incompetence: Incompetent worker are vulnerable to violate the safety rule and control measures.

Risk - working on slope roof

Falls and falling objects are the main risks associated with working on sloping roof or pitched roof. Due to the high probability and serious consequences i.e. fatality, working on sloping 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.
Risk increases with the increase in slope/pitch and height from ground.

Safe work practices and controls

1. If work is unavoidable at height, plan and organize work through the work permit system and the Job Safety Analysis. For maintenance/repair work, 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 slope roof at height must be certified and inspected before use.
3. Use roof ladders or crawling boards to prevent slip hazard.
4. Crawling boards or roof ladder must be laid across the roof surface considering the position of underlying load bearing support of roof to distribute the load of workers over wide area.
5. Provide perimeter fall protection or a guardrail system on the roof.
6. Cover or barricade the openings or hole on roof, if exist.
7. Workers with health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, psychosis, epilepsy, or one of these diseases should be considered unfit for working on roof at height.
8. Provide the safety net and all workers must wear full body safety harness.
9. Ensure that full body harness is always properly anchored / connected.
10. The lifeline must be used to move from one point to another and to anchor the full body safety harness of personal fall protector.
11. Fall protection system can be combined with safety warning line system or with safety monitoring system.
12. In case of low-slope roofs and 50 feet or less in width, the use of a safety monitoring system without a warning line can be permitted.
13. Ensure adequate and secured access to the roof.
14. In case of steep roof ie. pitch 4:12, guardrail system must be with toe guard.
15. 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.
16. All hand tools, equipment, and materials necessary for use on sloping roof must be properly secured.
17. Tool bag must be used to carry and keep tools.  
18. Do not throw any materials, including tools, from a height. Use a rope for safe delivery.
19. 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, safety warning line, safety monitoring system, self-retracting lifeline / lanyard, shock absorber, i.e. shock-absorbing lanyard, snap hook and fall protector or rope Grabs.

Toolbox talk interacting Questionnaires

1. For slope roof maintenance or repair work, what would be the first action before commencing the work?
2. Why roof ladder or staging or crawling board required while working on slope 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?
8. Why should the area around work at height be barricaded?
9. If there is no permanent anchor point on the pitched roof, what will you do to anchor the full body safety harness?
10. Where to put safety net to minimize the fall distance?


Working on a sloping or pitched 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. The roof ladder, staging, crawling board, prereferral edge fall protection, and use of the full body harness with lifeline and other accessories can prevent falls. Record of Toolbox talk on working at sloping roof/pitched roof must be maintained.

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