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Safe Roofing at Low-rise Residential Construction Projects

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: March 19, 2015
  • Content last reviewed: March 2015

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Falls continue to be the number one cause of critical injuries and fatalities of workers at construction sites in Ontario. Workers at roofing operations are particularly at risk, especially at existing homes where small roofing contractors are often hired to do the work.

On average, falls account for 41 per cent of all injuries resulting in lost time at work every year. More than half of all lost-time injuries occur in the low-rise residential construction sector even though only about 25 per cent of all constructor workers work in that sector. Over the past decade, there have been a number of serious incidents involving workers falling at construction workplaces in Ontario. In 2013, 16 workers died and 134 workers received critical injuries in incidents in the construction sector. Of those, nine workers died and 71 workers received critical injuries as a result of falls at construction projects.

Hazards that can result in worker injuries and deaths include:

  • falls from a roof
  • inappropriate use of fall protection systems
  • falls from ladders
  • inappropriate ladder setup
  • inappropriate material handling and storage activities leading to musculoskeletal disorders
  • heat stress
  • debris falling from the roof during construction
  • unstable ladders from poor or weak ground conditions
  • using damaged ladder or household ladders
  • contact with overhead hydro lines
  • poorly maintained equipment

Some duties of workplace parties

Employers, supervisors and workers have responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and Regulation for Construction Projects (O. Reg. 213/91).

Some of the responsibilities include:

Employers

  • Ensuring workers who may use them are trained in using fall protection systems [Construction Regulation section 26.2 (1)].
  • Appointing a competent person as supervisor [OHSA section 25(2)(c)].
  • Taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers [OHSA section 25(2)(h)].

An employer with six or more workers must also:

  • Prepare an occupational health and safety policy, review that policy at least once a year and set up a program to implement it [OHSA Section 25(2)(j)]. The employer must also post a copy of the policy in the workplace where workers will be most likely to see it [OHSA section 25(2)(k)].

Supervisors

  • Ensuring workers work in compliance with protective devices, measures and procedures required by the OHSA and its regulations [OHSA section 27(1)(a)].
  • Taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers [OHSA section 27(2)(c)].

Protecting workers

Employers and supervisors must ensure all the provisions of the OHSA and prescribed regulations are complied with by all workplace parties.

Health and safety considerations for roofing operations

  • Have the specific work-related hazards been identified?
  • Has specific training been provided to address hazards identified for roofing operations (e.g., fall protection, material handling, ladder set-up, heat stress, etc.)?
  • Are written emergency procedures established by the constructor in place at the project in the event of an incident?
  • If a fall arrest system is being used, are there written procedures developed by the employer to rescue a worker after an arrested fall [26.1(4)]?
  • Will any work be performed on ladders, scaffolds or work platforms?(Ensure correct size and use, and workers’ competence.)
  • Has the proper equipment been provided for material handling to reduce the risk of overexertion or musculoskeletal disorders? (Roof top delivery, ladder hoists, etc.)
  • Are workers trained on the safe use of access equipment such as ladders, scaffolds, work platforms and powered elevating work platforms?
  • Is hearing or eye protection required?
  • Have any hazardous chemical and/or other toxic substances been identified, and are there engineering controls and other safety measures in place to deal with them?

More information about safety on construction projects

Call toll-free

Call 1-877-202-0008 anytime to report workplace health and safety incidents or for general inquiries about health and safety at the workplace. Always call 911 in an emergency.

Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.