Disaster Responder Roofing Safety

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Harry Dietz

Summary Statement

This PowerPoint Presentation entitled, Disaster Responder Roofing Safety, is a training presentation given by Harry Dietz of NRCA for use in responding to flood or storm disasters such as Hurricane Harvey (2017). Notes are given for trainers with an asterisk, and the points covered are ladder setup and use, risks, risk controls, roof hazards, Fall Protection and PPEs. It covers what hazards a person involved in evacuation and aid efforts may face on roofs and with high waters.

What is NRCA?

  • One of the oldest construction trade associations
  • Approximately 4,000 members
  • Roofing contractors, manufacturers, architects, government, & institutional members
  • Involved with technical, safety, governmental & educational issues affecting roofing
  • NRCA involved in Rebuilding Together and other charitable efforts where volunteers are active

Class Goal

  • To maintain your personal safety and that of other volunteers and third parties as you work to minimize further property damage in areas that have been subjected to a disastrous event
  • We do not intend to make you into roofing or building trade professionals, but keep you safe as you help others protect their property until those professionals are on the site.

Class Objectives

  • Increase your awareness of roofing hazards generally and in disaster response situations specifically
  • Introduce safe work practices and control measures to minimize the risk of injuries
  • Increase your awareness of equipment and tools to help you safely perform your work

Site safety & roof access

Photo of a destroyed roof Photo of a destroyed roof

Hazard or risk assessment - preliminary site

Photo of a powerline fallen in front of a house

  • Power lines/electricity
  • Other utilities, propane, natural gas
  • Standing water
  • Structural integrity
  • Trees, poles
  • Debris
  • People, pets

Hazard controls—power lines

Probably the most dangerous hazard along with falls faced in disaster situations.

  • Always assume they are live
  • Always assume they are not insulated
  • Keep ladders, scaffolds and workers at least 10 feet from lines
  • Flag and barricade areas where fallen power lines are on the ground with orange cones, caution tape to prevent contact
  • Follow instructions of utility workers

Roof Access

Roof access—ladder types

*Explain ladder types and point them out on screen. Note the dangers in ladder use and the recent BLS fatality numbers on falls, ladders and scaffolds.

Multiple ladders

Ladder Ratings

*Explain load ratings.

photo of a rating on a ladder

Ladder ratings
Rating Maximum intended load
Type IAA 375 pounds
Type IA 300 pounds
Type I 250 pounds
Type II 225 pounds
Type III 200 pounds

Ladder Setup

1) Ladder must be set up at a distance on ground of 1/4th times the hight of the wall, and at an angle of at most, 75.5 degrees.

20 foot ladder propped against a 16 ft. wall with legs 4 ft away from the wall.man holding a ladder 75.5 degrees up from the ground

2) Ladders must be tied off to prevent movement

ladder portions tied to the roof it is against

3) Ladders must extend at least 3 feet over the eave or landing surface

ladder extending over roof

4) A ladder must be placed on firm, stable and level ground

make sure the ground is stable base secured with rope to a wooden stake

Securing the base of the ladder helps ensure stability.

*Explain the technique for tying off at bottom to avoid trip hazards, impalement hazards…

5) Rung locks, also called dogs or pawls, must be fully functioning and secure

rung lock

Make sure rung locks are fully seated onto rung —this photo below shows improper locking

rung lock

*This is often overlooked.

6) Ladder Setup: Walking a ladder up
*Always use two or three people to raise a ladder. Here is a method if you are alone and absolutely must work alone.

place ladder on the ground at the base of the object Place feet of ladder at the base of the building

man holding the ladder up and walking forward with a hand going from rung to rung above his headWhile putting pressure on the ladder in the direction of the building, push the ladder upwards rung by rung

Ladder Use

  • Do not carry anything up a ladder
  • Use both hands to hold the ladder siderails or rungs
  • Face the ladder when going up or down
  • Only one person at a time on a ladder
  • Do not load a ladder beyond its rated load capacity

man standing on the top step of a ladder man standing on a rung while the ladder is closed

  • Never stand on the top or top step of a stepladder
  • Never use a stepladder in the closed position

ladder tied to another ladder to make it look longer but losing integrity off the side of a building

  • Control access to areas around the ladder setup point
  • Use the right ladder for the situation

Roof access—scaffolds

man on a scaffold scaffold picture

  • Scaffolds can provide stable roof access and staging areas but require ground clearance
  • Integrated ladder access is often vertical making climbing difficult

Roof Hazards

Roof Hazards—roof types

Roof pitch diagram

  • Low-slope roof, 4:12 or less
  • Steep-slope roof, greater than 4:12

*Higher the slope, generally, the greater the footing danger.

Roof types

Roof types: Gable, Gambrel, Mansard, and Hip

Roof slip hazards

Frost, ice, moisture, algae, moss, snow all may contribute to slippery nature.

frost, broken tiles, debris

Roof hazards —skylights and openings

  • Not capable of supporing the weight of a person
  • Found on low and steep-slope roofs

skylight on the lower level, steep roof topbroken skylight


May result from flying debris that damages roof; roof vents, solar tubes or skylights removed by force of wind

storm damage from 2012- tree fell on a roofroof damage from storm

Roof hazards—deck integrity

  • Rotten wood decking can be a serious hazard
  • It is often hard to spot unless visible during an inspection
  • Thin 3/8-inch plywood may be found on some roofs

decking damaged by a storm

*Emphasize importance of determining deck strength before going onto roof.

Roof hazards—vent stacks, satellite dishes and cables

  • All pose tripping hazards
  • Lightning arresting equipment can also be present

roofind hazards on the roof

Roof hazards—electrical

electrical box on the roofsolar panels on a roof

*Discuss danger of solar panels producing electricity once exposed to sunlight.

Hazard Controls

Hazard Controls—skylights, openings

  • Cover with plywood, usually requires ¾-inch; larger openings may require additional framing
  • Secure with nails or screws

broken skylightbox covering skylight

*Emphasize dangerous nature of skylights and other openings. Fact that skylights are not strong enough to support weight of worker.

Hazard controls—slip hazards

  • Some footwear provides better grip on roof surfaces
  • These work shoes are designed for increased grip
  • More on Fall Protection shortly

Korkers Footwear sells strap-on versions for use with personal footwear- *Note the general price of these types of shoes and how they may be very useful to workers.

different non-slip work boots

Fall Protection

Personal fall arrest (PFA) systems and personal fall restraint systems are often used in residential construction

personal fall arrest system

Criteria for PFA's

  • PFAs often consist of a body harness, anchor, connectors, deceleration device, lanyard and lifeline
  • Each worker must be connected to separate lifeline
  • Lanyards and vertical lifelines minimum 5,000-pound strength
  • Anchors must support 5,000 pounds
  • Must limit free fall to 6 feet max
  • Ropes and straps must be synthetic

Personal fall restraint

personal fall restraint- man with the PSA, looking over the edge of a building

  • Designed to stop a person from reaching a fall hazard
  • Some fall arrest systems can be rigged in fall restraint

*Described fall restraint using lifeline and rope grab.


Anchors for personal fall arrest (PFA) equipment must be capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds per employee attached

*Ask the group to name a piece of machinery or equipment that weighs 5000 pounds. Why should anchor support that…discuss impact forces briefly.


Manufacturer’s Installation Instructions

  • Anchors must be installed following the instructions from the manufacturer
  • Only the type of fasteners described by the manufacturer for use with the anchor may be used
  • The quantity of fasteners described by the manufacturer for use with the anchor must be installed

*Pass around anchors with labels attached so attendees see the importance of fastener type and quantity.

Locating Roof Anchors— Residential Some General Guidelines

  • Locate at roof peak when possible and at least 6 feet from any exposed roof edge
  • DO NOT install roof anchors on unsupported roof structures, such as eaves or gable overhangs
  • Hip roofs may require a roof anchor at each hip face
  • Reduce swing fall hazards on long roof faces by using multiple roof anchors installed at least 6 feet from the rake edge
  • Best anchor position is directly above worker

*Before starting the roof construction, a plan should be established as to where the roof anchors will be installed. The slide shows some general guidelines for locating roof anchors. It’s best to position the anchor directly above the work area of the worker to limit the amount of lifeline extended and thereby minimize swing falls or free fall distances. *Note: give example of lifeline held at second roof anchor with carabiner.

Swing Fall Hazards

Swing Falls: Swing falls occur when the anchor is not directly above the point where a fall occurs. The force of striking an object while swinging can be great and cause serious injury. Minimize swing falls by working as directly below the anchorage as possible (the worker must be positioned within 30 degrees of the roof anchor).

Sharp Edges: Avoid working where the connecting subsystem (i.e. shock absorbing lanyard, self retracting lifeline, full body harness, etc.) or other components will be in contact with, or abrade against sharp edges. If working with equipment near sharp edges is unavoidable, protection against cutting must be provided by using a heavy pad or other means over the exposed sharp edge.

fall swing hazards

Slide Guards

In addition to PFA or personal fall restraint, slide guards may offer support and slip protection

Slide guards consist of metal brackets that secure a section of minimum 2 X 6-inch lumber

slide guards on a roof

*Not allowed as the sole form of fall protection today by OSHA unless fall protection plan in force, but may be helpful for workers in establishing sound footing on steep roofs with PFA installed and worn.

Hazards of tarped roof?

*Ask the group for responses to this:
Possible answers: Slippery; deck issues/holes; limits safe access to ladder, other roof surfaces

  • A tarped roof will be slippery especially if wet
  • Cleats, nails, seams and wrinkles will be trip hazards
  • Holes and openings that have been covered over will not be obvious to someone walking on the roof


tarped roof

Hazard: Power Tools

Hand-held electrical tools are especially dangerous because they make continuous contact with hands.

power tools

*Discuss hazards of electrical tools, presence of water, drilling into unknown substrates, etc.

Ground-fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)

  • This device protects you from dangerous shock
  • The GFCI detects a difference in current between the black and white circuit wires
  • If a ground fault (leakage) is detected, the GFCI can shut off electricity flow in as little as 1/40th of a second, protecting you from a dangerous shock

GFCI devicer picture

*Explain: The GFCI continually matches the amount of current going to an electrical device against the amount of current returning from the device along the electrical path. GFCI’s are able to detect the loss of current resulting from leakage through a person who is beginning to be shocked. If this situation occurs, the GFCI switches off the current in the circuit. Whenever the amount of current going differs from the amount returning by approximately 5 milliamperes, the GFCI interrupts the electric power within as little as 1/40 of a second, protecting you from a dangerous shock. GFCI’s are different from circuit breakers and fuses because they detect leakage currents rather than overloads.

Hazard Control: Power Tools

*Ask the learners if they know how to protect against electrical injury from power tools.
When they finish answering, review the points on the slide.

To protect from shock, burns and electrocution, tools must do one of the following:

  • Have a three-wire cord with ground plugged into a grounded receptacle
  • Be double insulated (indicated by symbol of square within a square)

three wire cord and double insulation

Double insulated symbol:
double insulated symbol

power toolsHazards and Controls: Power Tool Safety Tips

  • Inspect tools before each use
  • Read and understand manufacturer’s safety instructions
  • Use the right tool correctly
  • Use required PPE
  • Store in dry place―don’t use in wet or damp conditions
  • Keep working areas well lit
  • Don’t use damaged tools

damaged cord

  • Ensure no tripping hazard exists
  • Don’t carry a tool by the cord
  • Don’t yank the cord to disconnect it
  • Keep cords away from heat, oil and sharp edges
  • Disconnect tools when not in use and when changing accessories

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Head Protection

Workers in areas where there is a possible danger of head injury from impact, or from falling or flying objects, or from electrical shock and burns, must be protected by protective helmets.

protective head covers

*Ask the participants for examples of situation that require a hardhat in their work environment.
Some possible responses are:

  • Work going on above them
  • Working around a low-hanging structure such as pipes or overhangs

*Explain: On windy days the headband can be adjusted to keep the hat on. On cold days a fleece lining can be snapped into place around the suspension system. On hot days the hat will keep you cooler by shielding you from the sun.

Eye and Face Protection

eye and face protection

*Explain hierarchy of protection with strength of face shields surpassing that of goggles and goggles having more strength than glasses.

Eye Protection

  • Eye protection must meet the requirements of ANSI Z87.1-1968
  • Compliant eyewear will be marked Z87.1

compliant eye wear

*Pass around samples so class can fins Z87 marking

Hearing Protection

hearing protectionMay be necessary when operating loud powered equipment or if such equipment is in use in close proximity

*Pass around examples of various hearing protection devices. Explain the Noise Reduction Rating(NRR) system and how it applies to jobsite noise. The NRR is a single number rating that US law requires on all hearing protection devices sold in this country. The calculation is fairly straightforward. If testing values are determined in the dBA scale as 8-hour time weighted averages, the sound that a worker may be exposed to is calculated by this formula: Tested sound level in dBA minus (the NRR of the product minus 7). So for a tested level of 100 dBA employing a hearing protection device with an NRR of 18 would result in an exposure level of 89 or 100 ― (18―7)= 89.

If sound levels are determined on the dBC scale the calculation is merely one of subtracting the NRR from the tested dBC level. So if the dBC level is 100 and the NRR is 18, the exposed level is 82.


Respiratory Protection

Exposures to gases, vapors, fumes, dusts and mists may necessitate respiratory protection. Some people may want some protection against nuisance dust by using N-95 dust masks. Be aware that use of respirators, even dust masks, can make breathing more difficult. Check with your doctor.

*Critical to be evaluated for health status prior to wearing even a dust mask. Exposure to insulation, vermiculite etc. may be a hazard on any tarp project.

respiratory protection- masks

Hand protection

Heavy leather or rubber coated cloth work gloves provide hand protection from nails & other sharp objects

*Stress importance of gloves for gripping and injury prevention, cuts and punctures.



  • Some footwear provides better grip on roof surfaces
  • Choose footwear that has puncture resistant soles
  • You may need greater water protection

Korkers Footwear sells strap-on versions for use with personal footwear

footwear- high waders and boots

*Note the general price of these types of shoes and how they may be very useful to workers.

Disaster Responder Roofing Safety

Harry Dietz
NRCA Director of Risk Management