Even though you’re not a roofing installer, you may get jobs that require you or your painting crew to head up on the roof. Maybe you’re just painting the dormers, or maybe the building has decorations or other features that you can only access by climbing up on the roof. Regardless of the reason, once you hit the jobsite, you and your crew will have to leave the ground. You can probably see where the potential safety issue is here.

If you ask roofers they’ll tell you that staying safe on the job is no joke. Even if the edge of the roof isn’t that far above the ground, falls can result in serious injuries or even death. Add the possibility of loose shingles, slick metal and other potential slipping hazards and you can see that your crew needs to take safety very seriously while they’re working on the roof.

OSHA Requirements

As you can imagine, OSHA has something to say about safety when it comes to workers being on a roof. Unless there’s some sort of built-in protection along the edge of the roof, you’re responsible for providing protection for any worker getting on a roof higher than 6 feet off the ground. Depending on the slope of the roof, this may even include toe boards, safety nets and guardrails that you’ll need to install before starting work. An inspection of both the roof and the surrounding area is also required to ensure that the roof surface can support your crew’s weight and that no impalement hazards are present in the event of a fall. Once everything is good to go, all your equipment needs to be placed on the roof near the work area but at least 6 feet away from the roof’s edge.

Personal Fall Arrest Systems

One of the more common fall protection methods is the personal fall arrest system. Though different options are available, this is essentially a safety harness that is tethered to a secure location on the roof. In the event of a fall, the tether prevents the worker from actually falling off the roof. Workers wearing one of these harnesses need to have the harness inspected and the tether well secured before beginning work. In the event that either the tether or the harness is damaged, they need to be replaced before the worker gets on the roof and starts painting.

Proper Training

Painters are generally pretty competent when it comes to applying paint, regardless of the equipment being used. If you’re sending workers up onto a roof, however, they need to be properly trained to use whatever equipment is going up with them. The roof is no place for confusion or equipment accidents, especially when dealing with liquids like paint that could make surfaces slippery if spilled. If someone on your crew doesn’t know how to properly use the equipment needed for the job, don’t send them up on the roof until they’ve got the knowledge they need to do the job safely.

Watch the Weather

As a painter, you’re likely already used to keeping an eye on the weather. Rain can ruin a paint job, after all, and changes in humidity can negatively impact drying times. When you’re up on a roof, though, keeping an eye on the weather takes on a whole new importance. Rain can make roof surfaces slick, increasing the likelihood of falls. If storms are present, lightning strikes become a real concern for workers on a roof as well. Get your workers and all of your equipment off the roof before the first raindrop falls.

Have you ever had to take a paint crew up on a roof for a job?