Safety Tips when Installing an EPDM Flat Roof
EPDM roofs are more popular than ever due to the relatively easy application process. Whilst it’s great to see so many people buying the materials for themselves and following instruction manuals or video tutorials online, it’s also important to remember some key health and safety tips. As with all building jobs, there are many safety precautions to take in order to stay safe when installing an EPDM flat roof. Here are Waterproof System’s top 5 safety tips to follow.
- Read the product packaging carefully. While this might be an obvious place to start, it’s easy to overlook product packaging, instruction manuals, and technical information guides. This is especially important for the adhesives, primers, and sealants used to help bond EPDM rubber to other surfaces, as some of these contain strong chemicals that are flammable or might pose a health hazard. For any flammable products, avoid smoking and exposed flames. It is best to study any packaging and technical information before you start as well as familiarising yourself, and anyone working with you, with the signs and symbols used for these products. This government page is a good place to start.
- Clothing and protection. It is so important to buy and wear the appropriate protective clothing before embarking on an EPDM roof project (or in fact any large DIY job!) Key items include:
- Safety glasses
- Shoes with a good grip
- Chemical resistant gloves
Also, whilst it might be tempting to throw on some old loose clothes, this is actually incredibly dangerous. Baggy clothing can get caught on various surfaces whilst you are climbing to the roof, or can cause you to trip and fall. Try to strike a good balance between something that allows adequate movement but without impeding your safety.
- Breathing and ventilation. As mentioned above, adhesives which contain strong chemicals to help the rubber bond are the most dangerous in terms of ventilation and air quality. If you feel a bad headache coming on, dizziness, eye or throat irritation, take a break from your DIY project and call for help if necessary.
- Be careful when working at a height. Although the roof you are planning to install will be flat, there are still many precautions to take as roof installation and repairs are one of the highest-risk aspects of building work. It is estimated that falls account for more injuries and deaths than any other accidents caused in the building industry.
It is important to monitor the weather while you are working as rain, wind, and snow make roof installation even more dangerous – the surfaces of the roof and ladder might become slippery and strong wind might cause a fall. Take note of weather forecasts and be prepared to leave your project if it is too dangerous to continue. Some EPDM flat roofing materials are also ineffective in wet conditions. For example, adhesives can be affected by condensation in wet conditions.
- Don’t go it alone.
One of our key pieces of advice – which is applicable across all building jobs – is to work alongside another person. Even if they are not helping with the DIY work, they can support you if you encounter any trouble and this can make the difference if it comes to an accident or injury.
So there are our top tips for those considering DIY EPDM roof installation or repairs. Even if you’ve carried out roofing work before, it’s crucial to remind yourself of the risks involved in such work and how you can keep yourself safe from accidents. Even experts can make mistakes. Above all, if you do not feel able to install your EPDM roof safely, we advise that you seek professional help from a trusted roof contractor.