legal roofing codes

Alberta’s Roofing Regulations: What Calgary Homeowners Need to Know

Canada takes safety seriously in all aspects of business operations, and construction is no different. When constructing roofs of any kind, there are a number of regulations that lay out strict standards for everything from wind resistance capabilities to slope angles and more.

The goal of these regulations is to maximise the safety of roofing construction and with it the safety of the buildings themselves, providing peace of mind and protection for those who use them. Roofing Codes, like all construction codes, are created and enforced by the local building authority, and in Alberta this means the Alberta government.

Understanding which apply to work in Calgary and the surrounding area is important, because reputable contractors will always comply, and any construction project that doesn’t follow code will cause legal issues in the long term.

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Roofing Regulations

Pitched, flat and domed roofs are covered by Alberta building codes, so if you are having any roofing work done, it is almost 100% certain of falling under the requirements of any roofing codes in force at the time.

This begins before any building work begins, with specific expectations for all pre-construction preparation.

Preparation

There are several expectations outlined for roofing contractors before they begin any roofing work.

This includes:

  • All water, ice, snow and other debris must be removed before the roofing installation can begin.
  • If this is a renovation or replacement roof, all damaged or deteriorated roofing materials must be removed.
  • Adequate protective measures must be taken to protect the buildings, surroundings and personnel.
  • In addition, materials that are to be stored on the site must be protected from the weather.

Removing old roofing material should be carried out with consideration to the surrounding area, with material cut into small pieces for easy and safe transportation and disposal.

The roof decking must have a thorough inspection before any work begins. This applies to both new installations and remedial work, with the deck having a minimum 2% slope, material being undamaged, properly installed and without damage. There should be no signs of water ingress, all fasteners tightened to specification and no loose materials anywhere.

If any issues are identified during the inspection, they must be rectified before any work commences on the roof.

Waterproofing

Once the deck is ascertained to be up to required codes, we can look at the various elements that make up a completed roofing project.

Codes do not offer specifics here, other than any waterproofing membrane must be compatible with the decking it is applied to and offer high performance over an extended period.

Roofing Materials

In general, roofing materials must conform to Alberta Building Codes for that specific type of roofing, and must be clearly labelled so that all materials that make up the roof can be easily identified at a later date.

Installation

While there are specific codes for each roof type to ensure appropriate materials, it is the Province of Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act (in effect December 1, 2021) that dictates how roofing is carried out. It is this legislation that has the most impact on any roofing work, whether new, replacement or remedial repairs.

Designed to protect workers from workplace hazards, this set of regulations keeps construction sites safe, but for roofing in particular, ensures that the surrounding area, frequently a residential building for roofing, is a safe environment too.

The Health and Safety Act requires employers to:

  • Have clear policies in place to maintain safety across the work environment.
  • Provide detailed safety instructions for all machinery.
  • Provide adequate and appropriate protective equipment for all employees.
  • Deliver complete training on safety on site for all site workers.
  • Have policies and procedures in place to safely handle any hazardous substances or materials.
  • Conduct regular inspections to ensure health and safety measures and implemented correctly and identify any potential sources of danger and develop new measures to remove those risks.
  • Ensure every employee has access to all information outlining their rights under law regarding health and safety.

For every individual project, roofing companies in Alberta must also:

  • Develop an emergency response plan.
  • Implement prevention programs to avoid accidents noting any specific risks on each site.
  • Provide regular first-aid training for all employees who require it.
  • Implement medical surveillance programs for workers who could be exposed to hazardous materials if the project requires them.
  • Maintain records of all safety violations and accidents.
  • Fully investigate any accident on site.
  • Document all complaints and investigations that occur during the course of the project.

With these comprehensive requirements, site work has become safer for all, and when combined with the current regulations for protective equipment, roofing today is a much less dangerous environment than it has even been before.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements for Roofing Work

There are a number of requirements lad out for protective clothing, all with the goal of minimising risk to workers and providing effective protection should an accident happen. There are a number of essential equipment requirements that are mandatory under the regulations, these include:

Hard Hats

Hard hats must be CSA approved and conform to CSA Z94.1 Industrial Protective Headwear. They must be worn at all times on site, as the risk of falling objects is higher on a roofing project that many other construction types.

Hats are most obviously designed to protect against impact, where falling objects or hitting a low beam or other obstruction, but they also provide protection against chemicals and electrical shock too.

Eyewear

Appropriate protective eyewear is required for any workers who will be handling bitumen, or where there is a risk of dust and debris in the air such as during deck preparation.

Eyewear should be shatterproof, and feature side protection to prevent injury from oblique angles, and in some cases, where hot asphalt is being applied by spray for instance, may require full face shields instead.

Protection from Fall Injuries

Perhaps the main danger for workers on a roofing project is injury from falling. For most residential roofing projects, protection will be focused on effective scaffolding, securing ladders properly, appropriate railing installed and having fall arrest systems in place, along with clear warning lines and appropriate site organisation to minimise risk.

However, as heights increase workers will also need access to harnesses for safe working at roof height, maintaining safety throughout the project.

Risks from Heat

One area where roofing requires particular attention is the risk of heat and flame. Many roofing systems require heat sources during installation, including open flame propane torches for bitumen style roofing. These tools can reach temperatures of 2000°F and sometimes more, representing a clear risk to roofing workers.

There are a couple of injury types that workers must be aware of, direct burns which can be mitigated by training in use of the machines, and heat-related illnesses. These are more challenging, as they are a result of heat accumulation in the environment, and it may not be immediately obvious that a roofer is having difficulty.

Symptoms include:

  • Slow Reactions
  • Dizziness
  • Poor Judgment

Projects where heat illness is a risk should make provisions for workers to get away from the heat, including separate rest areas, access to cool drinks, and fans or air conditioning to mitigate the heat buildup.

Safety procedures should also be put in place that enable employees to spot and respond to heat illness symptoms among their coworkers.

A Cumulative Effect: Recognize Low Quality Roofing

The reason building codes and health and safety regulations like this matter is that they make a big difference to overall safety and performance. Each one may seem small on its own, but by following all the regulations discussed and others that apply, the cumulative effect is of safer construction sites for employees and anyone close by, and roofing installations that deliver the long-life performance that we all expect.

Without them, more people would be injured on site and more clients would be dealing with poorer quality roofing. Following codes can often seem like pointless red tape, but in reality, they make roofing a much better industry for everyone.

National Star Roofing

The editorial team is consisted of roofing experts with National Star Roofing Inc, a family-owned business based in Calgary, Alberta. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, they specialize in residential and commercial roof installations, repairs, and maintenance. The authors are passionate about providing reliable roofing services and sharing their extensive knowledge to help homeowners make informed decisions about their roofing needs. In their spare time, the author enjoys exploring the beautiful Canadian outdoors and supporting local communities.

Building Roofs for Albertans since 2003.

Residential & Commercial roofing. 500+ verified reviews with 5-star ratings (Google Reviews + Homestars)

* No credit card required