Rooftop accidents are a severe problem for contractors working on commercial and residential buildings. The risk of injury or fatality is substantial. An estimated 70% to 80% of injuries occur from falls in the top four feet of the roof, and most roofers working on commercial buildings have fallen more than once. According to industry data, some 12 percent have suffered at least one severe fall, often resulting in permanent disability.
Every year, 31 people out of every 100,000 die from a fall-related incident. According to one study, 90% of the deaths could have been prevented with proper fall protection equipment.
Working at heights carries its risks, and in this dangerous environment, harnesses are the most suitable way to protect you and other operatives.
There are many designs and materials available in permanent and temporary fall restraint systems. Whatever your decision, you are taking an important step to prevent accidents and to meet legal requirements.
Understanding the Roof-Fall Hazard and How Fall Restraint Systems Can Help
A fall restraint system is a device that is designed to help a worker stay attached to a safety harness when they are working at heights. If they lose their grip or are otherwise in a situation where they fall, the fall restraint system is designed to keep them attached to the harness to not fall to the ground.
A recent study did find that contractors installing a structural plywood fall restraint system on a perimeter wall established six times as many injuries as those installing a conventional fall protection system. However, no study has explicitly looked at the use of emergency fall ropes.
The Working of Fall Resistant System
In addition to arresting the fall, permanent and temporary fall restraint systems reduce the speed of the fall by redirecting the force into the floor joists above the unprotected workers. The system usually reduces the impact forces to the upper part of the body and head, limiting the time an injury occurs.
Active Fall Arrest System
The Active fall arrest system (AFS) is a static, time-based, multi-step dynamic system used to quickly and effectively arrest a fall in either horizontal or vertical plane. The primary components are the anchor and full-body harnesses, which are usually connected to a vehicle by a carabiner or snap hook; a time-limited dynamic force platform; and a lower-body brace that forms an integral component of the system arrest phase.
Active Fall Restraint System
The Active Fall Restraint System on a roof or elsewhere on your structure helps prevent you from pitching or falling over in hard winds or heavy rain. This system is rated to hold up to 330 pounds of weight.
When installed correctly, it can reduce the risk of falls by as much as 90%, allowing you to continue working during a dangerous situation. It is the most compelling piece of equipment for protecting people from injury when working in conditions that would cause a fall, such as in a warehouse or factory.
Structural Fall Resistant Systems
Structural fall protection systems consist of barriers installed as part of the work on a building to provide additional stability, such as running rails. These systems include metal and plastic members and consist of cables, cable tie-downs, and manila rope. These systems can differ substantially in their weight capacity, installation cost, and requirements for maintenance.
Future Models of Fall Protection System
Future models of fall protection systems will incorporate cameras to monitor the situation in real-time, providing thermal cameras to monitor the worker’s environment. It will allow operators to correct the worker’s behavior if they are not behaving appropriately, triggering some form of intervention.
Why Fall Restraint Systems Are Essential to Roof Safety
If you need to climb onto a roof to complete a job, you should be adequately tethered to a fall restraint system. Fall restraint systems are required by law in many states, so it’s essential to know the regulations in your area.
What Are the Other Basic Safety Measures Taken to Prevent Fall Injuries?
The other basic safety measures taken to prevent fall injuries are the following:
- The use of non-slip footwear, safety shoes, and rubber mats
- The use of railings, handrails, and safety guards
- The use of warning signs, warning lines, and safety nets
- The use of warning lights and warning alarms
- The installation of a fall protection system with independent sensors
Contractor organizations have been working to temper this but continue to highlight risks and the need to protect workers, especially those on the roof.
When most people think of safe fall restrictions, they feel padded arms and legs that hold onto a user during a fall. But many other accessories can provide additional safety when traveling or working in hazardous environments. A few examples include retractable scooters, roll cages, and headgear. All of these provide additional support when falling and help reduce injuries sustained during falls.