Using a throwing line for work on sloping roofs

A sloping roof (or pitched roof) is usually defined as a roof with a slope that is greater than 15 degrees. On these roofs, protecting yourself against fall accidents is a bit more complicated than it is on a flat roof. Therefore, different standards apply to the fall protection used in these situations.

In this post, it is explained how to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to create a secure, temporary anchor point on one side of the roof, so that a sloped roof can safely be accessed from the other side.

The basics
Users are attached to a rope (that is secured to an anchor point) by means of a rope grab device (a fall arrest device). Before accessing the roof, users connect the rope grab device to the safety harness they wear, in a safe zone. For work on a sloping roof, users should always face the ridge, which means they should use the chest attachment point of the harness.

Using a throwing line
A throwing line is used to get the rope over the sloped roof. Then, a user needs to find a secure object that can be used to serve as a safe temporary anchor point. In this example, a tree is used as a temporary anchor point. After the rope is anchored, a weight is placed at the other end to keep the rope taut. This is to ensure that the rope grab device works properly.

A throwing line is a strong, lightweight line that has a throwing bag attached to it. This is how to use a throwing line to create a temporary anchor point at the other side of the roof:

Unroll the throwing line and throw the throwing bag over the sloping roof. Attach the remaining end of the throwing line to the rope. Then, go to the other side of the building. *1

Pull the entire throwing line over the roof, until the rope is reached. Now, the rope runs over the sloping roof. There is no more use for the throwing line – it can be disconnected from the rope. *2

Tie the (adjustable) sling around the tree, and connect the sling with the rope in order to use the tree as a temporary anchor point. *3

Once the temporary anchor point is ready for use, go back to the other side of the building. There, attach the rope grab device to the rope, and then to the chest attachment point of your harness. Tie the weight to the end of the rope. *4

Now, you are ready to safely access the sloping roof – be sure to use a ladder! *5

The rope grab device will move along up the roof but blocks if you fall down, to arrest the fall and prevent that you’ll hit the ground. *6

The use of a throwing line, as described above, has several important restrictions. It is important to note that the correct completion of the steps above does not guarantee safety.

If the applicable restrictions are not observed, then a user risks falling off the roof and hitting the ground. This can lead to serious injuries or death. Therefore, users should always account for the following restrictions when working with a temporary anchor point at the opposite side of the sloped roof:

  • Users must never be at the side of the sloping roof that is closest to the temporary anchor point. In other words: users must always access the roof from the side that’s opposite from the side that’s closest to the anchor point, and they must never go near the ridge.
  • Users must never be close to the sides of the roof – this is where the danger zone is located. If this restriction is violated, than a user runs the risk of sliding or falling off the side of the roof.

The danger zone is located at the side of the sloping roof

SIDENOTE: If the work takes more than four hours, it is preferred to use collective fall protection (such as guardrails) in addition to individual fall protection.

Permanent fall protection for sloping roofs
An approved permanent fall protection solution, if available, should always be preferred over the use of a temporary anchor point.

If you would like more information about our fall protection solutions, request our fall protection brochure. For advice about the most suitable fall protection solution for your building or project, it’s best to contact us directly.

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