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3 Types of Roof Safety Systems to Protect Your Toughest Roofers

Roofing fatalities and injuries are nothing new to the industry. Even with the advancement of roofing safety technologies, these are still issues that have devastating long-term effects on individuals and families throughout the roofing industry.

how to not fall off a roof

How can you help your workers reduce the risk of becoming statistics?

It's time to take your roof safety systems to the next level. It's not just about avoiding risk or fees and court cases. It's about recognizing the value of your employees' lives and protecting them and their families.

So, what is best for your crew?

Which roofing safety system to use may vary depending on the roof type you're working on–steep slope safety measures may differ from low slope requirements. This piece covers three roofing safety systems and which type of roof you can use them on to keep you and your crew safe all day every day.

Roofing safety nets

Roofing safety nets are a type of fall arrest system, meaning that the nets catch workers if they happen to slip and fall. Safety nets are required by OSHA when working at a height of more than 25 feet or where the following is not available:

  • Ladders
  • Scaffolds
  • Catch platforms
  • Temporary floors
  • Safety lines
  • Safety belts

Roof safety nets must be tested before the project begins. They need to extend 8 feet beyond the edge of the work area and be less than 26 feet below the edge. There are also requirements regarding the mesh size and impact resistance. Find them on OSHA's site.

Roofing guardrail systems

Roofing guardrail systems are fall prevention systems that can be used for both low- and steep-slope roofs. Whether you do commercial or residential roofing, these are definitely worth having on hand.

While they serve the same purpose, commercial and residential guardrail systems have one main difference–residential guardrails have toe boards to ensure tools aren't slipping through the cracks and falling off the roof.  

Roofing guardrails are necessary to use around hatches on commercial job sites and are often used around the perimeter of the building. 

According to OSHA, the top rails of guardrail systems must be between 39 and 45 inches tall. When using stilts, OSHA requires top rails to be adjusted to the height of the stilts.

OSHA's guidelines also state that the guardrail system needs to be able to hold at least 200 lbs. This means you need to make sure you have a sturdy system that is well-attached to the roof you're working on. 

Fall arrest systems

Fall arrest systems are used on both low- and steep-slope roofs. They are the roof safety system typically preferred by residential roofers. A fall arrest system keeps the roofer from falling off a roof by using an anchor, a harness, and a lanyard. 

For this type of roof safety system, an anchor is typically nailed onto a rafter where a roofer's lanyard is attached to its ring. (Mobile anchors are also an option and work similarly to the stationary anchor.) The other end of the lanyard is attached to the roofer's harness. This allows the roofer to maintain an efficient range of motion during tear-off and production while also keeping him secure on the roof. 

For more information on the different types of fall protection systems for roofers, check out Simplified Safety's comparison chart or visit Equipter's online guide to roofing safety.

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