Flat roofs and heavy snow can be a bad combination. Especially along walls and tall rooftop units where snow can build up. Also, around drains, scuppers and gutters that can freeze, preventing melting snow from getting off the roof.
Many building owners opt to hire workers who are inexperienced in flat roofing to take care of their flat roof snow shoveling needs. Oftentimes, these inexperienced workers will shovel snow right down to the membrane, poking holes in the roof system. Other times, they will use pickaxes to chop the ice, further damaging the roof system.
Workers unfamiliar with membrane roofs also don’t understand flat roof safety. Many times, they think that, because the roof is flat, they don’t need harnesses and can work near the edge. They may also not understand how slippery membrane roof systems are, particularly TPO and PVC. Also, they may not know to look for skylights that may be buried in snow. Unfortunately, this has led to a lot of bad outcomes.
Every roof is different. In some cases, we shovel snow into a debris bucket, and use a crane to unload it from the roof. Other times, we push snow toward the edge of the roof, where another employee is fully harnessed in and can push it over the edge. In every case, our workers are either 100% hardnessed in, or we utilize the flag and monitor system with any employee outside the flags being harnessed into the roof. Skylights are identified prior to going up on the roof and, if the skylight does not have a safety cage installed, we install temporary skylight protection. Every project is different, but every project must be completed safely.