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A Guide to Roof Climbing Safety Tips

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

An out of focus roofer clad in brown stands at attention in the background while an extended silver ladder sits against a roof edge

Roofing is an essential part of building construction. It protects buildings from rain, snow, wind, and other weather elements. But it also presents unique hazards that must be considered when planning a project. For a non-trained professional, getting on a roof can be especially dangerous. Trained roofers are expected to follow certain rules that guarantee their safety, but without knowing what these are or how to follow them, homeowners risk their own wellbeing. Here is everything you need to know about roof safety.

Top Roofing Hazards

Construction in general is a hazardous job. Add all of the regular dangers of construction with the height of roofing, and these hazards double. Being aware of the various risks roofing has can help you to avoid dangerous situations, though. Here are the top hazards within roofing.

  1. Falling from a rooftop is the number one hazard in roofing. This can happen while climbing up to the roof if the ladder is not secure, or it can happen from the roof if the proper shoes are not worn to help grip the roofing material. If a roofer loses focus, then they risk losing track of where the edge of the roof is. According to Worksafe, falling from a roof or ladder accounts for most falls that happen from working high up.

  2. Exposure to the elements is another dangerous part of roofing. The peak roofing seasons are from spring until fall, as long as weather permits. This means that the summer time is a popular roofing season. Up on the roof, there is no relief from the sun, and anyone up there long enough is at risk of sunburn, heat stroke, and dehydration. Rain also poses a significant risk when working on roofing projects, as it can make the roof slippery.

  3. A failing structure can also be detrimental to a roofer. If the strength of the roof is not tested first, then anyone getting up on the roof is in danger of the roof caving in right under them. Trained professionals know how to spot weak spots in the roof, and how to take precautions against them. Always make sure to have an inspection before climbing onto a roof.

  4. Power tools can also present a unique danger when using them up on the roof. If something goes wrong with a power tool, then it could cause someone to slip or fall from the roof. If someone gets hurt with a tool while up on the roof, it can be difficult to get down in order to receive help.

Other hazards include improper use of ladders, debris, and a lack of proper roof safety equipment. Working from heights is a dangerous job, especially for an untrained individual. It is important to be aware of all the risks associated with roofing projects. For more roofing hazards and how to counteract them, check out SafetyCulture.

An experienced roofer stands on the peak of a house with a safety harness next to roofing materials as he prepares to work on the roof

5 Tips on Staying Safe

There are several risks associated with climbing roofs. These include falling off the roof, slipping, getting hurt, and being trapped. If you plan to climb a roof, make sure you understand the risks before you start and how you can use roof fall protection.

  1. Roof safety equipment is the number one way to stay safe up on the roof. Every professional roofing company is required to use roof safety harnesses when climbing up on the roof. If a fall occurs while wearing a roof safety harness, then it will catch you, effectively preventing a dangerous fall. Family Handyman goes into more details on how to properly use a safety harness.

  2. Wearing the proper clothing for roofing is just as important as a safety harness. The right clothes will prevent slips, and can protect you from the harsh weather. Shoes should have soft-soles and have a good grip to them. Gloves and protective eyewear are a must when working with power tools. Consider wearing a hat when the sun is high in the sky. Roofer’s Guild recommends staying away from clothing with rips and tears as these present a hazard for snagging and tripping.

  3. Inspect the roof before you climb on it. By knowing where the weak spots in the roof are, you can avoid them, and even reinforce them to keep everyone safe. Hercules SLR says that if there is any question about the integrity of the roof, then it is better to be safe and not climb on it, rather than be sorry. Knowing where vents and skylights are to avoid tripping is important for roof fall protection. Check for any loose parts of the roofing system so you know where to safely climb up.

  4. Never work on a roof alone. If something were to go wrong, then having another person present will help avoid an emergency. Have them hold the ladder steady and hand things up from the ground rather than pulling them up the ladder with you. If a fall occurs, then a second person will be able to call 911, or assist you in getting medical attention. Working with another person is the safest way to go about roofing projects.

  5. Watch the weather when planning a roof repair, and avoid any days that will rain. A wet roof is a slippery roof. According to hunker, even morning dew can become a slip hazard. Do not risk going up on the roof in bad weather, even with a roof safety harness, as visibility can also be low. This will lead to even more hazards. If it is going to be a very sunny day, prepare with sunscreen and protective gear.

Better Home and Gardens has a safety checklist to follow when getting up on the roof. If you are not a trained professional, then create your own safety checklist before starting your roof repair. A lot of steps must be done first in order to start a project up on the roof, including finding someone to help with your project, and making sure the roof is safe to climb on.

Gentle hands are held over a little red roofed house with gray and white siding in a gesture to symbolize protection

Trust the Professionals

When it comes to roof safety, the most important thing is the health and safety of everyone involved. If for any reason you do not feel comfortable getting on your roof, then call a professional roofing company to take care of your roof repair. They will have the roof fall protection and roof safety equipment necessary to ensure the process goes smoothly.

If you live in Columbus OH, Cincinnati, OH, Pittsburgh, PA, Dallas, TX, or Tampa, FL, then call Lifetime Quality Roofing and let our expert team assist you with your roofing project. Schedule a free inspection today by calling 614-407-7663!

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