Top 15 Safety Tips When Working on Rooftop Units

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Contractors take risks every day working in the field. Working on rooftops can be an especially tricky endeavor because there are many safety guidelines you should follow. And, dealing with the elements—hot, cold, snow, rain, etc.—can take one off his/her game.

HVAC contractor Jason Pinzak gives his top 15 safety tips whiles working on rooftop units (RTUs):

Safety Tip #1

Know the surrounding area around the rooftop unit ensure all rooftop ladder/stairs access is safe.

Safety Tip #2

Ensure the duct work is sized correctly based on heating/cooling load calculations.

Safety Tip #3

Make sure no exposed hazards are seen around the package unit. “Broken piping, exposed wiring etc.”

Safety Tip #4

Inspect the disconnect box condition/wiring for reuse or replacement. (check for broken wiring.)

Safety Tip #5

Make sure the rooftop can handle the weight of the new system and curb adapter if required.

Safety Tip #6

Measure the length of the equipment and distance from the unit to the edge of the roof, and height from the ground level. (For a safe crane distance/boom.)

Safety Tip #7

Does the system require Inspection of the fire safety equipment, and city  building inspection permits? (Especially notify the Fire Dept. when doing the job)

Safety Tip #8

Inspect the gas piping  and meter supply the required volume of gas to the unit.

Safety Tip #9

Or if electrical heat: Inspect the electrical conductors for the correct size, voltage, phasing, calculated on the amp draws for the elements and unit in operation.

Safety Tip #10

Ensure the entire work crew has on the required PPE safety gear/Steeltoe Boots, Safety Glasses/Goggles/Hard Hats/ Gloves/ Vest.

Safety Tip #11

There are various ways to enhance safety around a crane. You can start by ensuring you never stand below one or have heavy loads lifted over your head. So, when on the rooftop, ensure you keep a distance from the cranes as you receive loads. 

Work with a functional crane to avoid any accidents. With this, it would be best to research heavy lift crane services that offer high-quality and functional cranes for all your needs. 

Ensure that you have highly skilled personnel to operate the cranes. This is another way of preventing accidents as an experienced person will know how to use the crane correctly. 

If you are not aware of how to keep safe when operating a crane, you should read safety manuals for different machines. You can also watch videos on YouTube to learn visually. Using a crane efficiently can help ensure your project gets completed on time, saving you money and energy. 

Safety Tip #12

Use cones or yellow caution tape when setting the crane to help direct traffic to safety.

Safety Tip #13

Use of Radios or Walkie Talkies can help communication  and safety on site.

Safety Tip #14

Make sure the work crew has clear instructions on crane signals before the start of the lifts.

Safety Tip #15

Ensure that the ductwork is safe( whether Horizontal or Vertical Discharge is secure and will not damage or injure anyone on site.)

Extra advice (Safety Tip #16) – Embrace innovation and new technology

Technology is advancing and evolving all the time. While the primary focus of innovation is often improved efficiency and new capabilities, new technology can play an integral role in promoting safety and reducing the risk of injuries and accidents. The Internet of Things, a global network of new technologies, offers a diverse range of applications. The advantages of embracing new technology and innovation stretch across all sectors. Enhancing health and safety, particularly in industries where accidents are an occupational hazard, reduces risks, decreases the number of people injured and minimizes the chances of taking sick leave. There are benefits for both employers and employees.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injury and illness cases requiring days away from work to recuperate was 107.1 cases per 10,000 full-time workers in 2014, down from the 2013 rate of109.4.

There were six occupations in 2014, for all ownerships, where the incidence rate per 10,000 full-time workers was greater than 300 and the number of cases with days away from work was greater than 10,000. These occupations were police and sheriff’s patrol officers, correctional officers and jailers, firefighters, nursing assistants, construction laborers, and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers.

The leading event or exposure resulting in occupational injuries or illnesses for all ownerships in 2014 was overexertion and bodily reaction with 384,260 cases accounting for 33% of total cases. The 2014 incidence rate for overexertion or bodily reaction was 35.6 cases per 10,000 full-time workers, down from 37.7 in 2013.

Falls, slips, or trips accounted for an additional 27% of the total in 2014 with 316,650 days-away-from-work cases. The incidence rate increased to 29.3 in 2014, up from 27.9 in 2013.

Active in the field since 1996, Jason Pinzak has worked full time as a manager for two Builders Square stores. During this time he attended two night schools, eventually graduated with a BA degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is a member of the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) for the Chicago Local Chapter, a member of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America since 2002, certified  North American Technical Excellence in 2002, Air -Conditioning Heating Refrigeration Institute certified, ASHRAE member since 2012, EPA ESCO Universal since 1998. 

Jason is certified in stationary engineering and safety for Motorola and Abbot Laboratories medical plastic injection molding,  and has acquired  manufacturer (sales, service and installation) certifications on different forms of HVAC forced air, hydronics and tankless water heaters.

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