Today’s modern roofing systems are incredibly complex, and while this complexity is essential to the effectiveness of the system, it can also pose a threat to your personal safety. Modern fall restraint systems use an extremely diverse range of technologies to reduce the chances of damage from roof-related accidents. These technologies include automatic systems for fall arrest, retractable roofs, temporary roof anchor points and fall restraint anchors. But which of these technologies best offers a solution to your particular roofing problem?
The first solution is a fall restraint solution installed as part of your roofing installation. In the case of flat roofs, this is often a lightweight, removable guardrail system designed to protect employees and customers from falling. The difference is this: a fall arrest system on your construction protects users against actual physical fall, and this safety measure is completely optional in cases where users fail to adhere to the safety guidelines stipulated by their contract. Of course, the latter choice is much more preferable from a purely safety point-of view, but in fact there are lots of situations where work has to be carried out in the vicinity of a roof edge wear fall arrest would be a sensible solution. Consider for example when you’re carrying out work on a deck or patio and you need to move heavy pieces of furniture around in and out of the way, and when you have fragile items like glass or crystal that can break easily.
As well as fall restraint systems being used as part of roof safety system installation, they can also be used on permanent foundations and on mobile homes. The most popular types of fall restraint systems on permanent foundations are the temporary and retractable roofs. These types are relatively lightweight systems designed to secure the entire roof above ground and prevent any falling debris from getting away into the soil. In many cases you only require a few feet of distance between the roof and any potential load, such as steps. You can then use the remaining space to erect temporary restraint headings that lock in place and ensure that everything is properly secure. You might also need to install a second layer of temporary restraint to stop the ground slopes getting too much pressure on the roofs.
Similarly, the best way to prevent employees from falling is to install safety fall restraint systems. These can either be permanently attached to the building or, where possible, can be fitted as a self-retracting device on ladders, scaffold or riser. For temporary installations, self-retracting devices can be installed within a few feet of the worker, or alternatively on top of steps or ramps where they can be secured immediately. Workers will be safer if they cannot fall directly onto the roof itself. After all, falling from a great height can compromise their safety and cause serious injury.
Self-retracting devices can be installed in various different ways, including on ladders, scaffolds and risers. They can be fitted at ground level right up to the roof line or, if possible, six feet higher than the lowest point where workers are working. The main advantage of this is that there is no need for workers to move from one point to another, allowing them to stay put in one spot. Another advantage is that the fall restraint does not need to be anchored to the ground, leaving it open to the effects of seasonal weather and the vagaries of the wind.
In terms of the installation process, the most common fall arrest systems are temporary and rely on the worker being able to adjust the weight of the apparatus so that it is securely in place. They come in a wide range of forms, from simple wire systems tied to the roof flashing to more sophisticated systems that use a combination of chains and hooks. The simplest types can be adjusted with one foot of tension and are therefore suitable for minor construction or repair jobs. More advanced systems may also require manual adjustments but can then be operated automatically. It is sometimes necessary to anchor such systems to the building’s framing with roof safety or fall arrest anchor points, although self-retracting and self-anchoring systems are available in many different sizes and configurations.
It is important that the fall arrest system used is of high quality so that it will provide effective support during a fall. A horizontal lifeline should be capable of supporting an occupant in a horizontal position for at least fifteen minutes after the fall has occurred. You should also consider roof guardrails. A horizontal lifeline should be fitted around the worker’s fall arrest device at the lowest point where it contacts the roof. The horizontal lifeline may be required to be cut away when the fall arrest device has been placed in place, but it should be possible to replace the horizontal lifeline easily.
There are a number of other factors that need to be considered before installing temporary fall restraint systems. The fall restraint system should be able to withstand the forces of wind and falling objects. Careful consideration should be given to the distance between any attached anchors and the structure of the buildings. Roofs should be constructed of materials that will withstand strong winds. All these factors and more need to be taken into account before installing any fall arrest systems.