How to Prevent Damage from Rooftop Foot Traffic

March 6, 2014

Whenever the roof serves double duty as a waterproofing membrane and a work platform, the risk of damage is greater. “Damaged or crushed insulation due to foot traffic can lead to a costly roof repair or roof replacement,” explains James (J. J.) Longerbeam, Vice President and Service Manager, Cedar Rapids, IA.

“During a large reroofing project, the best way to minimize damage to the new installation is to stay off of it. This is done by using a well thought out project plan,” explains Jim Walker, Vice President and Field Service Manager, Cedar Rapids. “The first area of replacement should be the furthest corner from the ground/roof staging area.” Another strategy is to fully finish installing sections of the roof each day. As the crew moves from a new section of roof, that area should be complete and not require workers to access materials and equipment and walk across it.

“Repeated traffic will cause the roof system to wear down quickly.”

The most common foot traffic damage to a single-ply roof system is crushed insulation. Cover board was developed for busy roofs and helps protect against heavy foot traffic that can crush insulation.

A rooftop walkway system made of metal framing or walkway pad can also protect the roof system when placed in areas where foot traffic is most likely.

Don’t just modify the roof, change behaviors too. “Place signage at access points,” recommends James Rosetti, Vice President and Service Manager, Phoenix, “and hold workers accountable.” Consider using a log sheet to track contractors working on the roof. If roof damage occurs, you can invoice the responsible party for the repair.

“While they are signing in to access the roof, have them read a document that gives them direction on roof protection,” adds Walker. If walkway pad is in place, insist that all contractors use it.

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