Working on a roof is very dangerous. Not only are you working at a height, but you may also come across angles roofs, loose tiles or shingles, slippery surfaces, etc. In addition to the physical conditions of the roof, you may add hazards of your own by working. Cleaning a roof can add another slip hazard, for example.
Using a Fall Protection System (FPS) can eliminate most hazards when working on a roof. A good fall Protection System will comply with OSHA regulations for an employee work at height. A FPS system includes an anchor, rope line, rope grab, shock absorbing lanyard, and a full body harness. Using these components as a system will stop a slip or fall from even happening.
Bring temporary or permanent roof anchors to the job can allow you to securely add an anchor point. If you wish to avoid installing an anchor, use a a tow hitch or tie off to a nearby tree on the opposite side of the roof. Once a secure anchor is installed, you can attach your safety line to begin work on a roof with limited risk.
A rope line is one part of a 5 part system. It needs to be attached with to a rope grab and a secure anchor point. The rope needs to be adjusted on the fly so it is always short enough to stop a fall. If the rope is too long, your fall wont be stopped. Always check your rope before every job, and every use. A damaged rope can give under pressure, and in some cases, you won’t know until it is too late. Some ropes, like kermantle, which have a center core may look un-damaged from the outside, but are in face internally damaged. Keep in mind weight limits as well. Many cheaper ropes at common stores are meant for securing objects and not people. These ropes only have a limit of a few hundred pounds. Ropes also have a sehlf life of 3 years before they need to be replaced.
A rope grab sits on the rope line and is attached to your harness. In normal operation, the rope grab will slide with some ease as you move around. It a sudden force is applied, It’s job is to grab the rope and secure the worker in the harness. When weight is applied, the rope grab will not be able to be removed from the line. Once the worker regains their balance and can remove the weight from the rope grab, it can freely move again. In roof safety, a worker always needs to be in restraint. This means the rope grab needs to be able to lock in position when the worker is working. As the worker moves he moves the rope grab with him, and engages the lock before starting the next task.
Lanyards come in many lengths and with varying amounts of shock absorption. Some lanyards are only a few inches long and are used for positioning close. These often do not come with shock absorbing features as they restrict your fall to just a few inches. Some lanyards. although rare, can be up to 32 feet long. These will have a lot of absorption as you fall is 32 feet from your rope grab. The most important factor when buying or wearing a lanyard is to keep in mind how high you are working from. If you are at a height of 15 feet, but your lanyard is 32 feet long, it won’t stop your fall as it will want to continue to expand. Most common lanyards for roof jobs are 3 to 6 feet.
Harnesses come with different levels of protection and comfort. Many harness you will find at common stores are only lower body harnesses. When working on a roof, or at height, it is required to wear a full body harness. They also come with different attachment points, but most of them have a dorsal (back) attachment. For work on a roof, a vernal (front) attachment is recommend as a lot of work may be in front of you. Harnesses have a sehlf life of 5 years before they need to be replaced.