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Safety Checklist for Roofing Work - Part Three

Cotney safety checklist ladders and scaffolding
April 19, 2022 at 9:00 a.m.

By John Kenney, Cotney Consulting Group. 

Ladders, scaffolding and emergency plans. 

In the second part of our safety checklist for roofing work, we reviewed OSHA safety standards for working around roof perimeters and openings.  

Stepladders and extension ladders are used on roofing project sites. Improper use of ladders poses a serious safety risk for working on roofs. Observe the following requirements:  

Ladders checklist 

  • Regularly inspect ladders for any damage or deterioration 

  • Train your roofers in ladder safety. They must be able to identify any possible hazards, as well as understand the procedures when a hazard is observed 

  • Ladders must have secure footing on a level surface  

  • Ladders must be cleared of all objects and obstacles both at the bottom and top  

  • The use of ladders in high traffic requires the area to be blocked off with a barricade, and the ladder appropriately secured 

  • A three-point contact with the ladder must always be maintained with your hands and feet   

  • Tools and equipment must not be carried up the ladder  

  • Extension ladders are to be set at an angle so that the horizontal distance between the top at the edge of the roof and the ladder bottom is roughly one-quarter of the entire working length of the ladder 

  • The side rails of the extension ladder are required to extend at least three feet beyond the top landing surface and be secured tightly at the top  

  • Stepladders must only be used in the full, open position 

  • Do not use the support brace or top step of a stepladder as a step 

Scaffolding checklist 

OSHA requires that scaffolding used on a job site be designed by a qualified professional. The scaffold must be erected in compliance with the manufacturer's instructions. Only trained and experienced workers in handling scaffolding should be allowed to move, erect or dismantle it. Everyone handling the scaffolding is required to be trained and supervised.   

OSHA guidelines require the following: 

  • The area below the scaffold must be barricaded to protect workers on scaffolds from falling objects  

  • Scaffold platforms greater than 10 feet from the level below must incorporate toe-boards at the edge.   

  • If platforms are higher than 2 feet from an access point, ladders, ramps, walkways, or stair towers must be used to access the platform easily from another surface or platform 

  • Scaffolds more than 10 feet above a lower level must also incorporate appropriate fall protection measures like guardrails 

  • When guardrails are used, they must be installed along all sides of a platform 

  • Depending on the type of scaffold, top rails must be installed between 36-45 inches above the surface of a platform and withstand between 100 and 200 pounds of force   

  • Planks must be used on platforms fully between the guardrails and the front uprights with a space no greater than one inch   

Emergency plan checklist 

All your workers must have appropriate roofing safety training and be able to implement an emergency plan on any roofing job site. The emergency plan must include the proper procedure for reporting a situation and evacuating the area if necessary. All workers on the job site must know your job site's address and general location in case they must report an emergency. This information and emergency contact information must be posted on your job site and easily accessed in a highly visible place. 

Basic first aid equipment must be available and equipment to flush out eyes or skin in case of contact with corrosive substances. A qualified, trained individual in first aid should be on your projects to provide assistance when necessary. 

Employers must preventively plan against heat stroke and other heat-related problems and threats posed by freezing temperatures and other inclement weather.   

It is the responsibility of roofers and employers alike to ensure that safety measures when working on roofs are appropriately observed. OSHA provides employees the legal right to a safe working environment and to report any abuse or ignorance of safety measures. Employers who don't follow OSHA safety regulations could face the tragedy of avoidable injuries and deaths resulting from falls from heights and severe penalties. It is essential to take the time to ensure that a workplace is safe for everyone. 

John Kenney is the Chief Executive Officer at Cotney Consulting Group. Prior to starting Cotney, John had 45 years of experience in the construction industry. John began his career by working as a roofing apprentice at a family business in the Northeast. Because of his skill and hard work, he progressed from roofing laborer to foreman, estimator, chief estimator, Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer with his various companies. John has worked for multiple Top 100 Roofing Contractors and is intimately familiar with all aspects of roofing production, estimating, and operations. In his last role, John was responsible for the daily operations and performance of a large commercial roofing contractor. During his tenure, John ran business units associated with delivering excellent workmanship and unparalleled customer service while ensuring healthy net profits for his company. 



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