What Every Roofer Should Know About Ladder and Fall Protection Safety

Fall protection equipment should be inspected by the user before every use.

Roofing can be a dangerous profession, even in optimal weather and working conditions. Working at high elevations, on steep slopes and near unprotected edges are routine in the work life of a professional roofer. Alone, these situations can pose significant risk to the health and safety of roofers. Combined with the common environmental factors of windy weather and rain-slicked surfaces, the job can go from risky to outright dangerous on any given day.

What’s more, roofers face another risk every day on the job — injuries relating to ladder use or falls. Since 2017, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has closed more than 90 Federal and State investigations into workplace fatalities relating to ladder use on jobsites across the country, and many of these fatalities result from falls. The American Ladder Institute (ALI) reports that more than 300 ladder deaths occur every year, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 697 fatal falls from a higher level to a lower level in 2016.

All roofers know that ladder safety is important, yet many lack the training and education needed to safely maintain their climbing equipment. It’s essential that professionals understand that in addition to proper ladder use, they must also learn how to inspect a ladder for optimal safety. Education is the most important factor in improving jobsite safety and saving lives.

The Importance of Ladder Safety Training

The first step in ensuring that roofing professionals utilize ladders safely and effectively on the jobsite is to provide training on the essential components of ladder use. In fact, ALI notes that 76 percent of companies believe ladder accidents that occurred in their workplace could have been avoided with ladder safety training. When roofers feel confident in climbing and working on a ladder, they can protect themselves and promote a culture of safety among other professionals.

Figure 1. A ladder inspection form such as this one should be accessible on the worksite.

Ladder safety training sessions can either be conducted online or in-person on a jobsite. While online training provides greater accessibility and convenience, an onsite training session offers the ability to demonstrate real-world examples by job application and explore trade usage scenarios. Equipment manufacturers and various national organizations provide free ladder safety training in both formats. For example, OSHA conducts hundreds of ladder and fall protection safety training sessions every May as part of its National Safety Stand-Down initiative. A typical training for jobsite participants may include topics such as:

  • Safety protocols by application.
  • How to safely climb and work for extended periods from a ladder.
  • Common dangers posed by improper ladder use.

For a quick refresher or reference tool, take a look at the right and wrong ways to use a ladder. Even commonsense reminders can prevent against workplace injury.

Using a Ladder the Right Way

  • Prior to using a ladder, be certain that it is on a completely flat surface to prevent tipping.
  • Center your body on the ladder and keep your waist between the rails while maintaining a firm grip on the ladder.
  • Climb facing the ladder, move one step at a time and firmly set one foot before moving the other one. This is important to remember on your descent as well — don’t take any shortcuts to get down quicker.
  • If possible, have one person hold the ladder at the bottom while another person performs the task.
  • Move materials with extreme caution so as not to lose your balance or tip the ladder.

Using a Ladder the Wrong Way

  • Don’t stand above the fourth rung from the top of an extension ladder. This is very important as you can easily lose your balance and fall.
  • Don’t climb a ladder if you are not physically and mentally up to the task.
  • Don’t place the base of an extension ladder too close to, or too far away from, the house/building.
  • Don’t over-reach or lean to one side.
  • Don’t try to move a ladder while on it or from above. Climb down and then reposition the ladder closer to where you are working.
  • Don’t exceed the maximum weight of a ladder.
  • DO NOT permit more than one person on an extension ladder.

Ladder Inspection Checklist

Many roofers feel confident operating a ladder to perform their job duties. However, many take for granted the state of the equipment itself. Ladder inspections are just as important as general ladder use training. Both roofers and contracting business owners should know how to properly inspect all climbing equipment prior to each use.

Figure 2. The correct positioning of fall protection equipment and the connecting device is crucial.

While there are many ladder styles and models, there are several aspects of a safety inspection that apply to every ladder. The following should always be inspected before climbing a ladder.

1. Steps: Inspect each step of the ladder to search for cracks in the material, looseness between the step and the body of the ladder, missing pieces of hardware such as screws and bolts, or any missing steps.

2. Rails: Inspect each rail of the ladder for cracks in the material, frayed rail shields, or bent angles. These are indicators of compromised stability.

3. Labels: Ensure the ladder still has labels that are legible. Labels will often list important user information, such as the load capacity for the climber and their materials, directions for climbing safely, as well as any compliances with OSHA or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

4. Material quality: Ensure the ladder’s material is in good condition. Check for corrosion, rusting, or any loose parts, which can pose a danger to the user if left unchecked.

5. Hardware: Check to see that all bracing, shoes and rivets on the ladder are uniform and securely placed.

Proper fall protection training is essential. Photos: Werner Ladder

Each item on this five-part checklist can be inspected with a quick and thorough scan. If any of these five aspects of a ladder are not secure and sound, a ladder is not fit for climbing and should be immediately removed from service until it is either repaired or permanently discarded.

It’s also important to understand the unique aspects of ladders that are frequently used on the worksite. The most common types of ladders chosen by roofing professionals are stepladders, extension ladders and podium ladders, which all pose various benefits and have notable differences in their construction. Below are important attributes to check for each ladder style. A sample ladder inspection form is shown in Figure 1. To find ladder inspection forms tailored to your exact ladder model, visit your manufacturer’s website.

Stepladders

When using stepladders, ensure the spreaders are not loose, bent or broken. They should smoothly unfold when the stepladder is opened.

1. Top: Check the top of the ladder for any missing hardware or looseness. Many roofers rest tools and equipment on the top of the ladder, which may become damaged over time.

2. Pail shelf: Some roofers choose to add a pail shelf to their ladder, which can hold a bucket for tools and materials. Inspect the shelf to make sure it is properly secured to the ladder, doesn’t contain any material cracks, and is not bent out of shape.

3. Spreader: Look at the spreaders to make sure they are not loose, bent or broken. They should smoothly unfold when the stepladder is placed in an open position.

Podium Ladders

On podium ladders, the podium must be carefully inspected, as it often carries most of the user’s weight.

1. Platform: Inspect the platform to be sure it does not contain cracks, does not have missing hardware, and is not bent out of shape. The podium often carries most of the weight of the user, so be aware of any damages in the material.

2. Spreader: Similar to a stepladder, be sure to inspect both the top and the spreaders of the podium ladder.

Extension Ladders

Inspect the rung locks to make sure that they are not loose, bent, missing or broken.

1. Rung locks: The rung locks on an extension ladder are essential to maintaining structural integrity while climbing. Inspect these pieces to make sure that they are not loose, bent, missing or broken.

2. Shoes: Take a look at the shoes of the extension ladder to see whether they are worn, broken or missing. The shoes may experience significant wear over time, as they support the weight and position of the ladder.

3. Rope/pulley: Ensure that the rope is not frayed or damaged and make sure the pulley is not loose, bent or broken before climbing.

Products That Improve Roofing Safety

While ladder inspections will protect against equipment failure, safety accessories can complement these efforts and provide additional safety measures by making ladders more stable and secure. To combat the possibility of slips and falls from ladders, especially in rainy weather, manufacturers now offer ladders with slip-resistant treads on ladder steps and non-marring rubber foot pads to maximize a ladder’s ground contact.

Roofing professionals working at the edge of a low-height roof may consider utilizing a podium-style ladder with an extra-wide platform step to support a greater range of motion and stability while working. Hardware enhancements, such as shatter-proof locks and sturdy latch designs, enhance the durability of equipment. A ladder leveler is another accessory that can help prevent accidents. It attaches to the bottom of a ladder and helps provide an evenly supported working surface when working on sloped ground or a staircase.

Use of Fall Protection Equipment and Ladders

Roofing professionals may find themselves using fall protection equipment in tandem with extension ladders as they transition from standing on a ladder to standing on a roof. This is especially the case with high-sloped roofs, which require additional safety protocols to reduce the risk of injury.

OSHA specifies that a professional working on a steep roof must be protected by a guardrail system, safety net system or personal fall arrest system. When on a low-slope roof that features an unprotected edge 6 or more feet above a lower level, professionals must use fall protection. Below are three common scenarios in which roofers should consider using fall protection equipment.

When standing next to:

1. An unprotected edge — any side or edge (except at entrances to points of access) of a walking work surface where there is no wall or guardrail system of at least 39 inches.

2. A leading edge — the edge of a floor, roof or deck, which changes location as additional floors, roofs, decking or sections are placed, formed or constructed.

3. Holes — including skylight roof openings.

Just as it’s important for roofing professionals to be trained in proper ladder use, fall protection training carries the same weight. All roofing professionals should have an understanding of the primary components of a secure fall protection system and how they work in tandem to ensure a user’s safety. The graphic in Figure 2 demonstrates the correct positioning of a fall protection anchorage, a connecting device, and a harness.

Fall Protection Inspection Checklist

Just like ladders, fall protection equipment should be inspected by the user before every use, as broken or degraded equipment will not ensure the user’s safety. When inspecting a harness, it’s important to watch out for the following five items:

1. Fraying in the material.

2. Significant discoloration of materials (especially around clasps and joints).

3. Rusting of metal appliances.

4. Missing rings and buckles.

5. Excessive dirt or grease (this can be removed with warm, soapy water).

If any of the above items are found, the harness should not be used. It should be immediately taken out of service and removed from the jobsite. It may sound obvious, but simply wearing fall protection gear — even gear that passes your checklist — doesn’t automatically protect the user. Proper positioning must also be inspected after the worker has put on the harness. Roofers can self-inspect or use a buddy system to ensure maximum protection.

1. Make sure the harness’s centered chest strap has been properly fitted and routed. The chest strap should always be located at the sternum. Loose straps can cause injury, and the mispositioning of your straps could result in gear failure.

2. Connecting devices must be self-locking and closing, require a minimum of two separate steps for release and a 5,000-pound minimum breaking strength.

3. Always use a 3-foot lanyard and ensure your vertical lifelines are above the D-ring or adjusted for safe reach as you move.

Create Your Own Culture of Safety

In a high-risk profession like roofing, a commitment to safety is essential. This often begins and ends with equipment use training, which educates workers on the proper way to use a ladder or fall protection equipment. While this is an essential step in creating a safe environment, both business owners and roofing contractors can take safety a step further by introducing equipment inspections as a part of your jobsite protocols. Taking the time before each use to scan equipment for flaws has the potential to save lives.

Be sure to include inspections as part of your next safety training and consider printing off these important safety checklists to keep on hand. While roofing professionals may face many hazards at work, the one thing that can be controlled is your commitment to equipment safety.

Safety Resources:

For free online ladder safety and fall protection safety training, please visit Werner Ladder’s website, www.wernerco.com/us/support/training.

For more information on ladder safety and to review comprehensive literature and other safety resources, visit OSHA’s Portable Ladder Safety guide, www.osha.gov/Publications/portable_ladder_qc.html.

About the author: Chad D. Lingerfelt is the National Safety Training Manager at WernerCo. In this role, he oversees all of the Fall Protection and Ladder Safety Training. For the past 32 years, he has worked in the safety field making sure everyone goes home at the end of the day. For more information, visit www.wernerco.com/us.

Understanding the New OSHA Regulations for Fixed Ladders

As of November 19,2018, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) implemented new requirements for fixed ladders on buildings. Understanding these new ladder regulations can be confusing, and you can spend a great deal of time referencing the standard interpretations pages on the OSHA website and still not find the answers you need. 

In this article, we will be referencing the OSHA fixed ladder rules found under Occupational Health and Safety Standards, Subpart D, Standard 1910.28, “Duty to Have Fall Protection and Falling Object Protection.” We will address some of the most frequently asked questions about the regulations for fixed ladders and include some tips and links to other resources for more information. 

What has OSHA changed?

The first and primary change is the phasing out of cages on fixed ladders. Many see this as a step forward for ladder safety. The reality is that cages offer little in the way of fall protection. In fact, they can increasethe risk of injury during a fall. 

Should we order our new ladder with a cage or not?

Under the new rules, cages are not required or recommended for any new ladder installation. We will get deeper into what this means for existing ladders later in this article.

The next question is if OSHA takes away cages, how are they planning to protect people from falls? This is accomplished using a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) or ladder safety system. These come in wide variety of designs. 

Three primary types are:

1. Bolt-on cable systems (with a cable grab fall arrester)

2. Track systems (with a climbing trolley)

3. Top-mounted self-retracting lifelines

Of course, each type has its advantages and disadvantages. The key is that each must meet the minimum OSHA requirements outlined in section 1926.502(d) of the OSHA codes. 

When is a PFAS Required?

Under the new regulations, a ladder over 24 feet high will require a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system. You can choose any PFAS provided it meets the OSHA requirements in section 1926.502(d).

Please note: A ladder that is less than 24 feet high does not require a fall arrest system of any sort. 

What about landing platforms?

Multi-section ladders with a climb of 24 feet or more require rest points. These are meant to protect climbers as they ascend. Previously, a fixed ladder with a cage required a landing platform at a maximum interval of 30 feet.

The new regulations change this requirement dramatically. Fixed ladders without cages must now have a landing platform at maximum intervals of 150 feet. Ladders with cages must now have a landing platform at maximum intervals of 50 feet. 

How do the new rules affect existing ladders?

Under the new rules, the modification of an existing ladder or replacement of a ladder section requires that the modified or replaced section be equipped with a fall arrest system. 

By November 18, 2036, allladders 24 feet or higher must be retrofitted with a PFAS or ladder safety system.

Here’s the confusing part: Will all existing ladders with cages have to be replaced, or at least have the cages removed? No.The existing caged ladder can stay. But as outlined above, a fall arrest system of some type will have to be retrofitted. 

In such cases, the cage must not interfere with whatever fall arrest system is installed. Choosing the right type fall arrest is critical in these retrofit situations.

What questions should I ask then choosing a fall arrest system?

While the fall arrest systems themselves are not that complicated, the burden often falls on the purchaser to try to figure out all the parts and pieces needed to make their ladder OSHA compliant. 

It’s not uncommon to select a fall arrest system, only to find out the product or that the accessories needed to make it compliant might be discontinued or out of stock. This leads to a list of questions that you need to ask prior to picking a fall arrest system:

· Will this system work with my ladder and the height of my climb?

· What is the system’s load capacity? 

· Will the system allow for only one or for multiple climbers? How many?

· What is the true product cost? You need to gather information on the cost of not only the base components, but any accessories needed to make the system OSHA compliant, such as harnesses, cable grabs, trolleys, carabiners, etc. 

· Is the system, and all its accessories, readily available?

· Will replacement parts be available in the future?

Where can I turn for more information about ladder regulations? 

Reputable manufacturers and suppliers of ladders and fall protection equipment should have experienced personnel on hand that can help you navigate the new OSHA regulations. The OSHA website includes the regulations cited above, as well as a Q and A section that covers fixed ladders (https://www.osha.gov/walking-working-surfaces/faq.html). Contractors can also contact their area OSHA representative for assistance. 

Other OSHA ladder resources available online include:  https://www.osha.gov/stopfalls/trainingresources.html  and https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/alliances/alliance_products.html#Ladder.

The American Ladder Safety Institute also provides an online ladder safety training resource: https://www.laddersafetytraining.org/

About the author: Chris Lafferty is a sales and marketing associate with Design Components Inc., a full-service provider of fixed ladders and fall protection accessories. For more information, visit www.designcomponents.com

Why Planning Ahead for Post-Roofing Fall Protection Matters

Incorporating permanent fall protection systems into the overall construction plan benefits workers during the initial construction phase and while conducting building maintenance. Photos: MSA, The Safety Company

The majority of new and existing buildings require safe access to the roof area for ongoing building maintenance, as well as to service equipment such as telecommunications masts, skylights, air conditioning units, elevator machinery, and PV panels.

As such, failing to plan is planning to fail—especially when it comes to incorporating fall protection systems into the design, construction, and maintenance of a facility.

Without question, construction is a high-hazard industry and worker safety is, of course, paramount. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) helps ensure workplace safety standards by requiring fall protection equipment, fall arrest systems, and fall protection training for workers at height in the construction industry.

And yet there are pervasive numbers of architects, builders, general contractors, and building owners who are simply unaware that incorporating fall protection systems into their overall construction plan is not only possible, but highly desirable—not just to the benefit of the construction worker or roofer, but also to the overall building aesthetics, as well as ease and safety of ongoing building maintenance.

When it comes to commercial and infrastructure construction, the most important safety concerns are prevention of fall- and falling object-related accidents. In fact, 100 percent of fall-related accidents are preventable; yet, statistics show that falls are the leading cause of construction-related deaths.

That’s why OSHA holds fall-prevention planning in such high regard, as evidenced by its Fall Prevention Campaign, which urges construction employers to “plan projects to ensure that the job is done safely,” including “how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task.”

Planning for, and incorporating, fall protection systems into the building design before construction offers these four key benefits:

  1. It allows for appropriate and proper safety equipment outfitting and training of the worker at height at all phases of construction and maintenance, giving building owners and facility managers peace of mind that maintenance staff have the safety systems they need to carry out their duties.
  2. It maintains the integrity of the original building design, giving architects more aesthetic control over the building.
  3. It saves the cost, confusion, and chaos of retrofitting buildings with OSHA-required at-height fall protection systems, allowing for the planning and implementation of high-quality, versatile systems.
  4. It protects roof structures from potential damage caused by post-construction add-on systems.

Mitigating Risk

From trips to slips, and from falls to fatalities, the most often cited OSHA fall-related violations involve skylights, steep-slope roofs, and unprotected edges.

To reduce risk, it is imperative to plan and implement a comprehensive, engineered fall protection system specific to the building design. Components may include such fall-protection products as:

  • Designated walkway systems
  • Energy-absorbing force posts
  • Engineered horizontal lifelines
  • Fall arrest systems and fall limiters
  • Fixed ladder fall protection
  • Guardrail systems
  • Hands-free anchors
  • Overhead protection systems
  • Safety net systems
  • Self-retracting lifelines
  • Vertical lifeline systems

Training everyone on the proper use of safety systems is a crucial part of the process. Remember, workers at height are always at risk of falling, and it’s your job to protect them. Early-stage planning helps make sure that the systems used are perfectly integrated into the building to not only protect the worker but also to seamlessly fit with the building design.

Best Practices

Here are some best practice recommendations when planning an engineered fall protection system:

  • Start early. Your in-house specification team should work with your solutions provider to assess your building’s unique installation requirements.
  • Design to requirements. Ask your solutions provider to design a system that meets both pre- and post-construction requirements. Stipulate that your provider help with CAD concepts, working drawings, and plans, as necessary.
  • Confirm the approach. Request a “checking service” to make sure that the recommended approach is the absolute best available for your particular application.
  • Ensure versatility. Since access requirements vary by build or retrofit, make sure your solutions provider has the ability to adapt to a wide range of roofing shapes, materials, and contours.
  • Confirm safe access post-construction. While construction-related safety is important, it’s also critical to ensure total safety for workers with a system that allows safe access to the finished roof.
  • Consider building aesthetics. Ask your safety solutions provider to consider form as well as function; namely the appearance of the building and surrounding areas. For example, components of safety systems, such as bodies and base plates of our posts, can be powder-coated to soften their appearance against the roofing material.

When specifying fall protection systems, make sure you consider all aspects of a well-engineered system, from quality, versatility and lifespan, to aesthetic appeal, teamwork, and innovation.

About the Author: Anne Osbourn is an Industrial Marketing Manager at MSA, The Safety Company, http://us.msasafety.com.

Keep Guidelines Up to Date and Make Safety Part of Your Company Culture

Safety is a consideration in any type of work, whether in the office, a warehouse or outside. There are many concerns, including personal well-being, liability, regulation, public relations and cost-benefit analysis to keep in mind.

There is nothing more important than safety. Every employee wants to go home at the end of the day uninjured. Injuries inhibit the ability to perform work effectively, affecting both the employer and employee. Fatalities have a permanent impact.

Roofing is a category of special concern, due to height and fall injury potential for both sales and production personnel. There are two primary areas of concern: ladder safety and fall hazards. According to a study by the Center for Construction Research and Training titled “Fatal Falls From Roofs Among U.S. Construction Workers,” fatal falls from roofs accounted for one-third of all fall-related construction fatalities during the time period 1992-2009. In its findings, the study found that employers with 10 or fewer employees had a disproportionate number of fatal falls, and that Hispanic workers were a disproportionate number of those fatalities. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show that roofing workers are three times more likely to be fatally injured as a result of a fall than other construction industry employees.

In an effort to minimize the potential for injury or fatality, the government has instituted various regulations, which are enforced primarily by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Mandatory roof safety guidelines are an effort to steer the industry towards safer roofing practices.

Implementing Safety Practices That Align With Company Culture

The key components to have in mind are establishing guidelines, training, availability of effective safety equipment, and implementation of procedures that result in a safer work environment. The government, particularly OSHA, has developed guidelines intended to create a safer work environment. Training programs are readily available which interpret the OSHA standards and show how they can be practically implemented, and manufacturers have developed equipment designed to improve worker safety, including new types of ladders, safety harnesses, warning barriers, etc.

None of the above is likely to improve roof safety without a willingness on the part of the employer to mandate utilization of safe roofing practices and incorporate into daily operations a culture of safety.

Proper Safety Training Must Be Practiced Consistently

Employees need to be trained how to safely do their work, they must be provided the tools and equipment which enable them to work safely, and they must be encouraged to implement safe working practices to minimize the chance for injury. With proper training and availability of the proper tools and equipment, safe operations become a matter of “common sense.” Educated workers realize the value of the implementation of safe roofing practices and hence are more likely to incorporate them in their daily work.

Keep Safety Eco-Friendly

Safety is not only a physical issue, it is also an economic issue. As an incentive to incorporate safe practices in daily operations, many workers’ compensation providers offer financial incentives in the form of lower rates, rebates and dividends for lower claims history. This adds to profitability. Realizing the economic benefits of decreased liability exposure due to safe operating practices, many insurance providers offer training programs for free to their policyholders. Costs of development have been paid by the insurer, yet the policyholder benefits in the form of structured training being made available to employees at little or no direct cost. This can be a win-win solution to the question of how to develop and implement an effective safety-training program. Even more beneficial, the programs have been developed by experts in the area of risk mitigation, who have an incentive to find cost-effective means to practically incorporate safe practices into the daily roofing operations environment.

Safety Influences Profitability and Success

Employers who orient their company toward safe roofing practices seem more likely to profitably grow their business. Yes, there is a cost to train employees and implement safe roofing practices, but this is more than offset by the additional benefits to be gained by having available a properly trained workforce with a culture for safety. The availability of well-trained employees enables work to progress effectively, providing greater likelihood of profits. Safe and uninjured employees are less likely to pose a legal risk. Lower claims result in lower insurance costs, which directly affects the bottom line.

Keeping safety guidelines up to date is essential. Employee safety must be an integral part of the company culture. Gathering safety updates via e-mail from government websites allow companies to structure employee training programs and updates to the internal safety procedures. This will enable a company to effectively manage in-house safety programs. When companies have an excellent safety record, there are multiple benefits. A company’s e-mod will continue to move downwards, thereby reducing workers’ compensation costs while helping to ensure employees are able to return home safely each night to be with their families.

Retain Loyal Customers

Customers tend to notice poor safety practices implemented by the employees of their roofer. Along with liability risk, this creates a public relations issue. Not addressing customer concerns can result in loss of customers. Why would a customer continue to contract with a company that obviously disregards the safety of its employees? In the current culture, with its emphasis on the individual, safety is an important area of consideration for any employer wishing to profitably expand.

Follow Proper Safety Standards and Procedures When Loading Materials on the Roof

Ladder hoists can easily transport up to 400 pounds of materials to high rooftops.

Ladder hoists can easily transport up to 400 pounds of materials to high rooftops.

Architects, building owners, contractors, facility managers and other skilled professionals allied with the roofing industry rely on proven safety standards and procedures to keep workers safe. This attention to safety is even more important in areas where natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes are a frequent occurrence.

Earthquake-resistant roofing: After an earthquake, the collapse of poorly constructed concrete roofs and walls leads to significant injuries and death. This is especially true in economically disadvantaged countries where building codes are absent and financial resources are limited. Lighter roofing materials like aluminum and other metals pose less risk for earthquake survivors, and disaster-resistant monolithic shells made of reinforced concrete show real promise.

Hurricane-resistant roofing: Clay tiles and concrete tiles hold up better than wood and other types of shingles in hurricane conditions. In Guam, monolithic domes made completely of reinforced concrete have withstood both earthquakes and hurricanes for 50 years.

Tornado-resistant roofing: Unlike earthquake zones and likely hurricane pathways, tornado-prone areas have no international code for building. Keeping the roof on a building may prevent the walls from collapsing and heavier materials like reinforced concrete seem to best suit this purpose. Insulating concrete forms (ICFs) are being used for roofing but serve more for insulation than for structural integrity in a storm. Once again, reinforced concrete building materials hold up the best. Kenneth Luttrell, PE/CE/SE, MACI, and Joseph Warnes, PE/CE, FACI, FPCI provide detailed analysis in their study titled “Hurricane and Tornado-Resistant Concrete Houses.”

Of course, the very materials that make buildings resistant to natural disasters—especially the reinforced concrete and clay tiles that stand up to hurricanes and tornadoes—present a greater worker safety risk due to their size and weight. You can still get those bulky, heavy materials to the roof and safeguard worker well-being if you choose the right material hoist to prevent falls, decrease injuries, and minimize the chances of both non-fatal and fatal accidents.

Material Transport Options and Risks

Roofing jobs include inherent costs and risks. Transporting materials to the roof is labor-intensive, hazardous work when you must manually carry objects up a ladder. Bulky and/or heavy items increase the risk of accidents, including falls that can lead to death. If you violate the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s “three points of contact” regulation regarding ladders, you face stiff fines. Boom trucks and roofing conveyors may partially eliminate some of this risk, but they require operator training, rental fees and significant space. They can also potentially cause property damage to driveways, lawns and landscaping. These machines can fail to unload materials safely away from the edge of the roof, which is precisely where you want them. In many cases, an OSHA-approved material hoist is the better, safer alternative.

A platform hoist can decrease the risk of injuries, minimize OSHA infractions, prevent accidents and reduce worker fatigue.

A platform hoist can decrease the risk of injuries, minimize OSHA infractions, prevent accidents and reduce worker fatigue.

OSHA Regulations

OSHA ruling 29 CFR §1910.28(a), which took effect in January 2017, puts the responsibility for worker safety—especially the testing and certification of fall-protection systems—on the building owners who hire roofing contractors. Employers must now provide fall protection for employees who will be walking or working on a surface with an edge that is four or more feet above the ground. Depending on the fall danger, employers are free to choose from guardrails, personal fall arrest (PFA) systems, safety nets, travel-restraining systems, or warning lines that mark a designated work area near a low drop-off.

This ruling revised previous industry rules regarding falling, slipping and tripping in the workplace so that the construction rules and the general industry rules are more closely aligned. Unfortunately, repair work—governed by OSHA’s mandate 29 CFR §1926 for the construction industry—and maintenance work—regulated by 29 CFR §1910 for general industry—are still ambiguous.

A provision for ladders is also included in the new ruling. A cage, ladder safety system (a body harness and connectors, carrier, lanyard, or safety sleeve), a PFA system, or a well must be included on fixed ladders installed before Nov. 19, 2018, that extend more than 24 feet from a lower level. On or after that date, fixed ladders must include a ladder safety system or a PFA to eliminate or reduce the likelihood of falls.

Under the new regulation, roofing contractors using these fixed ladders must ensure their workers’ safety with a cage, ladder safety device, self-retracting lifeline or well. Rest platforms are also required, depending on the height of the fixed ladder. Rope descent systems (RDSs) and their anchorages must be tested and certified in writing by the building owners.

In addition to regulating how workers should be protected from falls, OSHA also monitors how objects are carried and loaded/unloaded. For those doing manual lifting, OSHA states that:

  • Every person going up and/or down a ladder will grasp the ladder with at least one hand at all times, maintaining three points of contact with the ladder—either with two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet.
  • Workers must not carry loads and objects that might cause them to slip or fall.
  • All ladders, including portable extension ladders, fall under these OSHA rules.
  • Ladders must support four times their intended load unless they are labeled “rugged use, extra-heavy-duty,” in which case they are require to support a minimum of 3.3 times their 375-pound capacity.
  • No load is allowed to exceed the published weight limit.
  • Ladders may only be used for their intended purpose.
  • Non-self-supporting ladders must be tilted at an angle so the base of the ladder is one-quarter of the working length of the ladder away from whatever is supporting the top of the ladder.

Choose an OSHA-approved ladder hoist to meet these safety standards.

Material Hoists

For your workers’ safety, choose a material hoist company committed to your safety and to excellence, quality and service. Their products should easily transport up to 400 pounds of materials to high rooftops, keeping your team off of ladders. By handling the bulky, unstable and heaviest objects, a platform hoist decreases the risk of injuries, minimizes OSHA infractions, prevents accidents and cuts workers compensation claims. It also reduces worker fatigue.

Look for a ladder hoist designed to accommodate all types of building materials. This includes the new, heavier shingle packages that increase efficiency by increasing the number of shingles (and therefore the weight) of each shingle package. Also take into account the heavier materials that have proven their worth in areas prone to earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes including:

  • Clay tiles, which can weigh up to 2,000 pounds/100 square feet
  • Concrete tiles, which can weigh up to 700 pounds /100 square feet
  • Reinforced concrete, which varies in weight due to thickness
  • Slate tiles, which can weigh up to 1300 pounds /100 square feet

Product Attachments

Choose a ladder hoist with product attachments that can handle the bulkier materials required for natural-disaster-resistant construction. An unloading ramp automatically unloads away from the roof’s edge, increasing safety and efficiency. Custom support braces stabilize your hoist or “laddervator,” protecting workers at greater heights. A plywood carrier can transport bulky material like rolled goods, sheets of metal or plywood, skylights, and trusses, keeping workers safe from carrying unwieldy items up a ladder one-handed.

Don’t let unwieldy, heavy objects or special materials that have proven their effectiveness in natural disaster zones keep you from a great safety record. Start with an OSHA-compliant platform hoist.

Learn more about this latest regulation at OSHA’s fall protection page.

Roofing Torch Program Reduces Fire Hazards During Modified Bitumen Application

CERTA offers a certification program in which authorized trainers deliver behavior-based training to roofing workers who install polymer modified bitumen roof systems.

CERTA offers a certification program in which authorized trainers deliver behavior-based training to roofing workers who install polymer modified bitumen roof systems.

The latest market survey conducted by the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) shows the use of polymer modified bitumen as a percentage of all new roof systems, installed both in new construction and re-roofing projects, comprises about 10 percent of the total low-slope market, according to members responding. The significance of that share of the market for polymer-modified bitumen also highlights the importance of proper training in the use of roofing torches, the most common method for installation of such systems.

Background

In 1986, the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association (MRCA), in conjunction with industry organizations, the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association, and the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, developed a curriculum to train roofing workers in the safe application of torch-applied roof systems. This program was named the Certified Roofing Torch Applicator, or CERTA, program.

In 2003, insurance industry representatives approached NRCA to address concerns about an increase of losses and incidents involving torching activities conducted by roofing workers. One prominent insurer experienced over $7 million in roofing torch-related claims in 2002 spread over more than 30 separate occurrences. The need for enhanced work practices and focused safety training to address torching activities became apparent, and NRCA arranged with MRCA to adopt and revise the nature of and deliverables offered by the CERTA program.

CERTA now offers a unique, comprehensive certification program in which authorized trainers deliver effective behavior-based training to roofing workers who install polymer modified bitumen roof systems. CERTA-authorized trainers undergo a rigorous full-day training session that includes classroom and hands-on instruction in propane safety, hazards related to torch use, proper techniques for safe installation of polymer modified bitumen, and development of training skills. Individuals who successfully complete all aspects of the program then are authorized to deliver training, under the CERTA protocol, to workers who qualify as certified roofing torch applicators.

MRCA continues to work with NRCA to make sure the program is up-to-date and uses the most effective procedures to develop authorized trainers and enhance the curriculum. Since its inception, roofing contractors who have trained their workers under CERTA generally have experienced fewer torch-related fires, injuries and property damage. Insurance industry claims also are a testament to the CERTA program success—the insurer that experienced over 30 torch-related claims in 2002 now can count such average yearly claims on one hand with a significantly reduced average yearly dollar loss.

Safety Specifics

Trainees in a CERTA class spend a great deal of time on some specific aspects of the use of roofing torches to install a polymer modified bitumen roof system. Those specifics have a direct correlation to keeping workers and others safe, and minimizing the likelihood of property damage. First, the CERTA curriculum focuses on the inherent danger of roofing torches and discusses assessing job hazards and establishing controls for torching operations. Details cover the proper personal protective equipment to minimize or eliminate exposure to burns and the critical need to handle propane properly and make sure equipment is in good condition.

Pre-job planning enforces the significance of determining the hazards unique to the particular worksite and developing the necessary controls to address those hazards. In addition to general working conditions and weather issues that may influence job site safety, specific hazards such as the presence of a combustible roof deck, roof penetrations, concealed attic areas and combustible flashing substrates are addressed and suitable controls are suggested and discussed. Also, attendees get comprehensive information on the types and ratings of fire extinguishers and how they are used most effectively along with the minimum CERTA requirements for appropriate fire extinguishers that must be on a roof. In fact, CERTA requires a fire extinguisher capacity far exceeding OSHA’s fire protection requirements during torch operations— two 4A60BC-rated fire extinguishers within 10 feet of torching activity.

Another important fire prevention protocol is the use of a fire watch system. The intent of the fire watch is that a dedicated individual is charged with inspecting the work area after the last torch, or other heat generating tool, is extinguished. Ordinarily, this is accomplished visually, but it can also be done more scientifically with the use of temperature sensing infrared thermometer. These are inexpensive tools that read the temperature of an area that the tool is pointed at and display the reading in degrees on the screen. The fire watch individual would shoot various specific locations where hot work was done—for example, at roof penetrations, flashings or field areas—noting the temperature for each spot. This procedure would be followed for the same spots a short time later, and if the temperature had increased, the possibility that a fire under the roof surface could be a source of the increased heat being generated would require further steps to determine the nature of the heat increase and the proper action to take.

Historically, many industries and building owners have required a 30-minute fire watch be maintained after the last torch or other tool has been extinguished. Under the CERTA protocol, a two-hour fire watch is demanded of a CERTA roofing torch applicator. The fire watch must be maintained not just at the end of the day but at other break times, such as lunch, so that fires do not start when workers may be away from the work area or inattentive during break times.

Another key element of training for the CERTA torch applicator involves installation techniques that are intended to reduce the likelihood of a fire being started. The techniques include specified thermal barriers to protect combustible roof decks and substrate protection for flashing installations, along with an alternative torching technique that minimizes the use of direct torching.

Certa Works

Installation of polymer-modified bitumen roof systems using propane roofing torches requires adherence to a number of safety procedures and an awareness of the hazards that workers may encounter. The CERTA program has a proven track record of enhancing the safe practices of roofing workers who install these systems and the roofing industry, building owners and the general public are all safer because of its development and use.

Photo: NRCA

Prevent Roof Fires During Torch-Down Projects

Torch-Down Safety While driving to work recently, I heard a news story on the radio: An unlicensed roofer was charged with causing a fire at a local apartment complex. When I arrived at the office, I Googled “fires caused by roofers.” The results included stories from across the nation:

  • Roofing crew blamed for a Chicago strip-mall fire.
  • Roofer’s torch likely cause of huge Arizona construction-site blaze.
  • Roofer’s blowtorch sparks a six-alarm fire in Hamilton Township, N.J.
  • Obviously, using an open-flame torch to install torch-down roofing systems can pose a fire risk. Torch-down roofing is a type of roofing that consists of layers of modified bitumen adhered to layers of fiberglass with a flame torch. Torch-down roofing is used only for flat or low-slope roofs. This process is popular with many contractors, mainly because of its ease of installation and its adaptability. With this system, the modified bitumen can bond tightly to metal flashings while the rubbery additives in the asphalt allow the roofing to expand and contract when other roofing systems may crack. In addition, roofers like torch-down roofing because it is easy to apply. Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous!

    It is easy to make a mistake with the torch that could result in disaster. Consider roofers that are torching down a roof and accidentally overheat something in the attic—insulation, for instance. They end their work for the day, not noticing the smoke coming out of soffit vents. Before long, that smoldering material in the attic heats up and starts a fire that quickly spreads throughout the dry, hot attic and, often, to the rest of the structure. 

    Regulations and Best Practices

    OSHA has developed standards that can help prevent these types of fires. Here are some of OSHA’s fire-protection and -prevention rules from the construction and general industry standards:

  • A fire extinguisher must be immediately accessible for all torch-down operations.
  • A fire extinguisher is needed within 50 feet of anywhere where more than 5 gallons of flammable or combustible liquids or 5 pounds of flammable gas are being used on the job site.
  • No one on a job site can be more than 100 feet from a fire extinguisher at all times.
  • There must be at least one fire extinguisher for 3,000 square feet of work area.
  • All flammable or combustible debris must be located well away from flammable liquids or gases.
  • Combustible scrap and debris must be removed regularly during the course of a job.
  • Piles of scrap and debris must be kept at least 10 feet from any building.
  • A fire watch person should be posted to immediately address any possible smolders or flare-ups.
  • The fire watch person should remain on post for 30 minutes after the torch-down job is finished for the day.
  • While the actions spelled out in these construction regulations are mandatory, roofing professionals should be aware that these are minimum requirements. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) and the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association (MRCA) have developed a roofing torch applicator certification program designed to reduce fire hazards during torch application of modified bitumen products. According to Harry Dietz, Director of Risk Management for NRCA, the Certified Torch Applicator (CERTA) program teaches installers to minimize the exposure of combustible structural materials to the heat and flame of the roofing torch. The program also spells out a number of safe practices that go well beyond OSHA’s regulations in dealing with roofing torch use. Among other program elements, these include:

  • The requirement for two 4A60BC fire extinguishers during torch work (more than 10 times the firefighting capability required under the OSHA rules).
  • A two-hour fire watch performed after the last torch has been extinguished.
  • Following these guidelines for fire prevention can protect roofing professionals and the public. It can also save roofers money and time, as well as protect contractors from lawsuits and other legal charges. 

    “In 2002, a leading insurer of roofing contractors had over $7 million in torch related claims in 33 occurrences prior to requiring CERTA for its insureds,” said Dietz. “In 2015, that same insurance company reported only one torch-related claim with a loss of less than $10,000.”

    Visit this site to learn more about OSHA’s Safety and Health Regulations for Construction, Welding and Cutting, Fire Prevention. To learn more about the Certified Torch Applicator (CERTA) program, click here.

    Hazard Communication for Roofers

    To follow the OSHA Haz-Com standard, an employer must develop a written Hazard Communication plan.

    To follow the OSHA Haz-Com standard, an employer must develop a written Hazard Communication plan.

    According to Paracelsus, the 16th century physician and scientist: “Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy.”

    If you wash your windows in your house or car once in a while, the glass cleaner is not subject to the Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Hazard Communication standard, which essentially ensures that information concerning the classified hazards of chemicals is transmitted. However, professional window washers use glass cleaners eight hours per day, five days a week, by the gallons and in stronger concentrations. For these people, OSHA’s Haz-Com standard comes into play and the window washer’s employer is expected to have a written Hazard Communication plan—a list of all hazardous chemicals onsite, Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and the proper container labeling.

    In the roofing industry, synthetic roofing materials, asphalt roof shingles, adhesives and treated wood shingles all contain hazardous chemicals. In addition, items roofers use every day, like lubricants, hand-cleaning products, sealants, thinners, coatings, gasoline and diesel fuels, and even fire extinguishers, are subject to the HazCom standard.

    In OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards, Haz-Com is almost always No. 2, second only to Fall Protection. Out of 398 inspections in the construction/roofing industry in 2015, OSHA issued 768 citations and collected $443,317 in fines for HazCom. Unfortunately, this number is so high because many companies, who otherwise have an excellent safety record, do not understand or completely disregard the Haz-Com standard.

    If OSHA comes onto a company’s site to do an inspection for an accident, a complaint, or a visible infraction, an OSHA insprector may ask to see the Haz-Com plan and the SDSs. To follow the OSHA Haz-Com standard, an employer must develop a written Hazard Communication plan, determine what products onsite may be potentially hazardous, provide a list of all the hazardous or potentially hazardous substances onsite, and locate SDSs for all these products. These SDSs must be immediately available for all employees on the worksite during work hours.

    These chemicals must also be properly identified and labeled. Here’s what you need to know:

    Safety Data Sheets

    SDSs are information sheets for one specific product and have 16 standardized sections. The employer is responsible for having the SDSs onsite.

    Labeling

    Container labels must be clearly visible, legible and in English. If employees speak a language other than English, that language can be on the labels and SDSs, as well. There are six elements to Haz-Com labeling:

    • The product identifier appears at the top of a container. This is usually the name or code number to the product.
    • Pictograms are a black picture on a white diamond background with a red outline.
    • Pictograms are designed to be easily identifiable to non-native readers. They also make labels more identifiable.
    • The labeling format also includes one of two signal words: “Warning” or “Danger”.
    • Beneath the signal words, there are Hazard Statements and Precautionary statements. The Hazard Statement tells users how the chemical can be a hazard. The precautionary statement tells users how to protect themselves from the chemical.
    • Usually, on the bottom of a label, contact information for the manufacturer, importer and supplier is included.

    Training

    Training is also important to maintain the Haz-Com standard. Employees must be trained on the types of hazardous materials onsite, the location of the hazardous chemicals onsite, the locations of the Haz-Com plan and the locations of SDSs onsite. Employees must also be trained how to read the labels and SDSs.

    Learn More

    To learn more about Haz-Com and the toxic substances in roofing, visit the following websites:

    Photo: OSHA

    How to Deal With Winter Downtime

    You worked hard all summer and made a lot of money. But now summer is over and winter is quickly approaching. With winter comes downtime.

    When you’re young, temporary lay-offs can be fun: Parties, travel, music and sporting events make layoffs easier to handle. When you’re older, with bills to pay and mouths to feed, layoffs can be very worrisome. There are a few basic steps you can take to help deal with temporary layoffs.

    If you’ve been laid off, you should file for unemployment insurance as soon as possible. The sooner you file, the sooner you can be deemed eligible and the sooner you can start receiving funds. The unemployment agency will verify with your employer the reason for you losing your job.

    If you are not happy in the roofing industry you might be interested in retraining, not only to learn new job skills but also to keep your mind sharp. Consider the following:

    • Take some community college courses. Community colleges are relatively inexpensive and offer a wide variety of courses to improve work skills while earning valuable college credits that may lead to a possible degree.
    • Visit your local unemployment office. It will have lists of apprenticeship and training opportunities that can lead to a more secure position.
    • Select courses at a location vocational/technical school. These schools offer a wide variety of hands-on training at reasonable costs.
    • Purchase books or software to use on your own. There are many free and reasonably priced online training and education classes available.

    See “Training Resources” below for some additional ideas.

    If you love roofing and want to remain in the trade, there are steps you can take to keep your head above water—financially speaking.

    John M. Grohol, Psy.D., writes in “7 Ways to Cope with a Layoff” that you need to take a realistic look at your finances and budget. Do not put this off longer than a week after you are laid off. Although we may not enjoy dealing with our finances, failure to do so could result in a far worse situation down the road (which always arrives sooner than you think). Dr. Grohol suggests: “Be creative in analyzing your budget for places to cut.” Most of us assume we need things like digital television and unlimited mobile calling plans. But most of us don’t. He adds, “Now’s the time to put aside your wants temporarily and focus exclusively on your and your family’s needs.”

    Your savings, rainy-day fund and even your 401(k) may offer you some temporary financial relief. Borrowing from your 401(k), for instance, is usually less expensive than adding to your credit-card debt because you are paying back the loan with interest to yourself (not a credit card company). However, borrowing from your 401(k) and other retirement accounts is usually recommended only as a last resort.

    Take care of your insurance. We often don’t think about insurance until we’re faced with a layoff and find out just how expensive insurance really is. Your employer will likely offer you COBRA, which allows you to continue your employer’s health benefits with one catch: You now have to pay what your employer was paying for your benefits. Be prepared for sticker shock. Most people are amazed that a family of four’s health insurance on COBRA might be as high as $1,000 or even $1,500 a month; for a single person or couple, it can be anywhere from $500 to $800 per month. When paying bills is already going to be a challenge, COBRA might be out of reach.

    Shop around. With the Affordable Care Act, there are a lot more health-insurance plans available at a wide range of costs. You may find other health insurance coverage for your family that is less expensive and won’t cut your benefits in any significant way. Weigh the costs with what you can afford. For example, you may have to pay a higher deductible for inpatient hospital stays to achieve a lower monthly premium.

    If you want or need to keep working, hit the classifieds. Nearly all classified sections now are online, so searching through them is far easier than it was 10 years ago. Although it might seem like nobody is hiring (and in the construction profession, that may very well be true), you should keep an eye out anyway. Jobs sometimes become available as people retire or a company’s focus changes. Extend your search somewhat outside your trade, as well, just to see what else might be available. Check out your “dream job”, too. Some people use a layoff as an opening for a new opportunity.

    Use the unemployment resources available to you, whether through your ex-employer or through your local government. Libraries, too, often offer a great set of employment and career resources (such as résumé writing services). Don’t be afraid to network. Make your situation known, build connections and, soon, unemployment will be a thing of the past!

    Training Resources

    The following are examples of free or low-cost training opportunities you may want to consider when you are laid off:
    Free
    College courses from American Standard University
    Solar training in New Jersey from Information & Technology Management
    Your state may offer free training, like New York

    Low Cost
    Penn Foster Career School

    More Ideas
    The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration provides information and services to assist workers who have been or will be laid off.

    Search for apprenticeships and youth education/training programs, like one in New York.

    Interested in the safety profession? Check out Free-Training.com/osha/soshamenu.htm and Free-Training.com.

    Suicide in the Roofing Industry

    A recent study released by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted suicide rates in 2012 by occupational group. According to the study, workers in construction and extraction have 53.3 suicides per 100,000, second only to workers in farming, fishing and forestry (84.5 per 100,000). As such, it is an industry imperative to shatter the stigma surrounding mental health and create caring cultures within our companies.

    The CDC’s study found that of about 12,300 suicides in the 17 states studied, 1,324 people worked in construction and extraction (10.8 percent) and 1,049 (8.5 percent) worked in management, a category that includes top executives and other management positions.

    The CDC tells us there is no single cause. However, several factors can increase a person’s risk for attempting or dying by suicide. On the other hand, having these risk factors does not always mean that suicide will occur. Risk factors include the following:

    • Previous suicide attempt(s)
    • History of depression or other mental illness
    • Alcohol or drug abuse
    • Family history of suicide or violence
    • Physical illness
    • Feeling alone

    Suicide affects everyone, but some groups are at higher risk than others. Men are about four times more likely than women to die from suicide. However, women are more likely to express suicidal thoughts and make nonfatal attempts than men. The prevalence of suicidal thoughts, suicide planning and attempts is significantly higher among young adults aged 18 to 29 years than adults aged more than 30 years. American Indians and Alaska Natives, rural populations, and active or retired military personnel also have higher rates of suicide.

    In the construction industry, including roofing, there are several factors that make the possibility of attempting suicide more prevalent. The roofing business is seasonal. We work from April to October and get laid off for several months during the winter. Conversely, during the warm months, long com- mutes and even longer workdays in hot weather, compounded by close bids, tight schedules and stringent quality-control measures increase the stress levels of roofers immensely. Depression can set in during these months.

    In addition, in construction, we consider ourselves “tough guys”. We believe it is not “manly” to seek help or go to a doctor for medication, despite the fact that some of us will drink alcohol and take illegal drugs to get high. Drug use and addiction are also some of the main causes of the depression that leads to suicide attempts. Unfortunately, men in general are not very likely to ask for help or discuss personal issues. Men may also have easier access to firearms. The CDC says that men are 56.9 percent more likely to use firearms to kill themselves.

    To help identify those who may be prone to attempting suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, New York, has developed a list of risk factors. These risk factors are broken down into several warning signs. Consider the following:

    • Changes in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors: This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss or change.
    • Changes in what a person says or does: If a person talks about being a burden to others, feels trapped, experiences unbearable pain, has no reason to live and/or blatantly discusses killing himself/herself, he or she may be having suicidal thoughts.
    • Increases use of alcohol or drugs.
    • Looks for a way to kill himself/herself, such as searching online for materials or means.
    • Acts recklessly.
    • Withdraws from activities.
    • Isolates from family and friends.
    • Sleeps too much or too little.
    • Visits or calls people to say goodbye.
    • Gives away prized possessions.
    • Is aggressive.
    • Experiences changes in mood: depression, loss of interest, rage, irritability, humiliation and anxiety.

    No matter what problems a person is dealing with, the volunteers at the Suicide Prevention Hotline want to help those in distress to find a reason to keep living. By calling (800) 273-TALK (8255), a person will be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in his/her area, any time. The call is confidential and free.

    If you are in a crisis, whether or not you are thinking about killing yourself, please call the Lifeline. People have called for help with many troubles, including substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, abuse, depression, mental and physical illnesses, and loneliness.

    LEARN MORE

    Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention
    Understanding Suicide Fact Sheet
    American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
    National Suicide Prevention Hotline