The Basics of Roof Safety
Safety should be your first priority when working on a roof. Take the time needed for the proper safety measures at all times. An accident or injury always brings about more lost time and expense than simply using good safety practices in the first place.
When working on a roof the most obvious danger is falling. A fall from a roof can be disabling or even deadly.
According to statistics approximately 6 roofers are killed by falls every month in the United States.
Some precautions you can take to avoid becoming a statistic are:
- Wear non-slip shoes that will grip the roof surface. Soft soled work boots offer the best traction.
- Avoid working on a roof that is wet or contains ice, snow, or leaves.
- Protect yourself by using a safety harness that is tied to something sturdy.
- Additionally, if the roof is steep, use guardrails and nets.
- Use extra caution near the roof edges.
- Keep the work area as free of debris and tools as possible to prevent slipping or tripping.
- Wear a hard hat or helmet to protect your head.
Ladder safety goes along with preventing falls:
- Before using a ladder, inspect it for any damage. Never use a damaged ladder or one that doesn’t fit the job properly.
- Check that your ladders have been approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
- Don’t exceed your ladder’s weight specifications.
- Use your ladder safely. When leaned against the roof edge it should extend at least 3 feet above the roof to allow you to safely get onto the roof. The bottom should be angled out and placed on firm, level ground and then the ladder should be safely tied off at the top.
- Always climb up and down your ladder safely. That means facing the ladder and climbing one rung at a time.
- If a ladder is too short, never push it in to make it work, this will make it unstable.
- Don’t stretch too far off the ladder to reach things.
Electrical safety cannot be stressed enough!
Each year many roofers in Arizona are killed due to metal ladders coming too close to electrical wires. Keep in mind that electricity can arc from a wire to a ladder several feet away. Be certain your ladder is made from a non-conductive material, such as wood or fiberglass.
- Always keep ladders away from electrical boxes and wires.
- Keep all tools and materials away from electrical wires.
- If you find it necessary to work near electrical wires, contact the power company first.
Play it safe with tools:
- Always use protective eye gear, and gloves and hard hat when needed.
- When using a roofing or utility knife be sure to cut away from your body.
- Use extreme care with power tools.
- Never attempt to work on a power tool while it is connected.
- Never disengage any safety equipment.
- Gun safety applies to nail guns too. Always treat them as though they are loaded and never point them at anyone.
Some general safety tips:
- Never work on a roof alone. Even minor injuries can be serious if there is no one to assist you or call for help.
- Keep heavy objects close to your body when lifting and always use your legs instead of your back.
- Be careful that falling debris don’t land on people or damage anything, such as windows or cars.
- Clean the site at the end of each day to prevent accidents and injuries.
- At the end of each day remove all ladders from the work site, or if you prefer they can be safely locked together on the ground.
- When finished be certain no nails or sharp objects are left lying around.
- Obviously no children should be allowed on ladders or roofs or around tools.
- Be aware of the dangers of heat. Drink plenty of fluids and use sun protection.
Installing a new roof is a major undertaking. It involves having the necessary knowledge along with the physical strength and agility to get the job done. If you aren’t comfortable with heights, or have any qualms about carrying heavy materials up a ladder you may wish to hire a professional roofing contractor. Any savings you attain by doing your own roof job may not be worth the risk of personal injury and the medical costs and time lost at your job due to injuries. Additionally, if you have no roofing experience you may not do the job properly which can bring about more expense due to water damage and the repairs that will be needed to correct the problem.
Guest Blog Written By: Alan Monzon
Arizona Roof Rescue
6069 N. 57th Drive
Glendale, Arizona 85301