When natural disasters strike an area, one of the most commonly-damaged parts of any structure is the roof. Blue tarps are often installed on these homes as quickly as possible to temporarily provide protection from the elements. “Blue Roofs,” as they’re commonly referred to, carry several unique safety risks for the workers installing them. One of OSHA’s most recent fact sheets addresses the hazards that come with tarping over a damaged roof. It provides a helpful overview for workers and the companies that are managing them.
Electrical Hazards Abound
One common danger that typically comes with working in a disaster area is downed power lines. Never assumed that a power line overhead or on the ground is dead. Contact the utility company to deactivate the lines in the area that your crews will be working in ahead of time. Even with that done, be aware that generators may be in use in the area. Generators have the potential to send “backfeed” into power lines that aren’t getting power from the utility company. Keep metal objects like ladders away from power lines to further protect your workers from electrocution hazards.
Structural Instability is Dangerous
A home or other building that’s been impacted by a natural disaster may be structurally compromised. Be sure that the building’s integrity has been evaluated before workers get up on the roof to begin tarping. The structure may not be able to support the added stress of additional weight being placed on the roof and could collapse unexpectedly.
Provide the Right Type of Fall Protection
Disaster recovery scenarios may seem more urgent, but it’s never a good idea to cut corners when assessing what type of fall protection is needed to keep your people safe. Providing the right equipment, training, and monitoring can prevent serious injuries. Falls are consistently the number one cause of worker-related fatalities in the U.S.
Taking time to properly evaluate and equip your crews protects your employees and your business’ bottom line. Safety pays, always!