5 Safety Essentials for Installing Standing-Seam Metal Roofs
Twenty years ago, most metal roofing was found in tropical climates because the durable, cost-efficient characteristics made it a preferred choice. Yet, in recent years, metal roofing has experienced a nationwide surge. Materials have improved, consumers are increasingly aware of the benefits of metal roofs, and installation has become safer due to the development of new products that provide better protection for roofers.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the risks associated with falling during metal-roof installation can be remedied with appropriate planning, the right equipment and training. Having the proper fall-management procedures in place is critical to roofer safety. Here are five recommendations to heed.
1. Identify and Address Risks in Advance
Before construction begins, crews must assess the dangers present on each work surface. Access to the roof, skylights, openings, and weak surfaces must be addressed.
Weather often plays a factor in safety during installation. Heavy wind gusts and wet surfaces can pose additional safety risks. A plan must be developed to address the risks and, as part of this plan, procedures for training installers must be detailed.
2. Safeguard the Space
Once training has occurred, safety needs have been assessed, and crews are ready to begin, the space must be safeguarded. A restricted area below the construction vicinity is advised. Ladders and other construction equipment should be organized and easily accessible. A list of requirements for ladders can be found on OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov.
Perhaps the most important aspect of roofing installation is selecting a reliable personal fall arrest system. Since more than one-third of residential construction fall deaths are due to falls from roofs, it is essential that workers be secured using a trusted system.
3. Select the Right Equipment
OSHA does not endorse specific fall-arrest protection products. However, the organization does have strict standards for these systems. It is important to review and compare options for standing-seam roof safety equipment to ensure OSHA requirements and the best possible protection for roofers.
For example, after intense product development and rigorous testing, SeamSAFE created standing-seam roof anchors that exceed/meet standards by OSHA, as well as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). SeamSAFE’s holding surface/power, which ultimately protects roofers, is more than double that of other anchors on the market.
In addition to equipment selection, ensure standing-seam roof anchors are sized correctly to the seam height and width – or safety will be compromised.
4. Properly Attach Fall-Arrest Systems
Fall-arrest systems must be able to hold at least 5,000 pounds and should be installed above the area being built. Anchors come with manufacturer’s instructions and must be strictly followed. As with all safety equipment, a qualified person should always inspect the anchor before each use.
5. Consider What Comes Next
Since roofing is not always the final step in construction, it is often recommended that anchors be left in place. For instance, solar panels are growing in popularity and may be included in current or future construction plans. Skylights may also be part of the plan. Construction workers installing these or other features for a home or commercial building will also need fall protection. Therefore, when choosing an anchor, consider one that offers the flexibility to be removed or left in place permanently.
Author: Doug Mullins, owner of Construction Specialty Anchors, LLC, has more than 40 years in the roofing industry. His own experience with a life-threatening fall from a standing-seam metal roof prompted him to invent SeamSAFE anchors, which set a new standard for fall-arrest protection. SeamSAFE anchors and brackets are widely used throughout the country by roofing companies, contractors, and even NASA.