Metal safety

Two primary hazards come to mind concerning metal roof system applications or metalwork complementing a roof system—cuts and falls. Avoiding sharp objects may be aided by recent advances in personal protective equipment (PPE), but confronting fall hazards, especially in residential construction, involves some critical choices. Following are some common hazards associated with metal roofing and alternative work practices and products that may reduce workers' exposures to injury.


Application of metal roof systems usually involves cutting, punching, drilling or bending metal, which can produce sharp edges, shavings or shards. To comply with standards for PPE established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), you must supply workers with the necessary PPE for the risks involved and ensure they use it. For metal work, safety glasses, goggles or face shields are necessary. Verify the purchased product has been manufactured to meet the American National Standards Institute's (ANSI's) impact- and penetration-resistance requirements for eye protection. Compliance with the ANSI Z87.1 eye-protection standard will be marked on the glasses' frame, head strap or lens. Even greater impact protection is indicated by the ANSI Z87+ voluntary standard. Eye protection meeting that standard can withstand a higher velocity impact than the basic impact protection of ANSI Z87.1.

Hand injuries from cuts, punctures and abrasions can be avoided by giving workers gloves woven with Kevlar® or stainless-steel fibers. Often, these gloves have rubberized palm coatings for gripping slick or polished metal surfaces. Costs vary but typically are around $4 - $7 per pair—somewhat higher than a good leather work glove. Similarly, constructed sleeves worn from the wrist over the elbow offer added protection for about $2 - $3 each.