Four Smart Ways To Stay Safe When Roofing

If you decide to install your own skylights – or do any type of work on your roof – you’ll want to ensure your safety and that of anyone assisting you with the work. It is dangerous, but there are some ways you can keep yourself safer and minimize the chance of any injuries. 

Follow Ladder Safety Guidelines

When you’re preparing to work on the roof, make sure you have everything together in advance, and double-check your list of items you may need. The fewer times you climb up and down the ladder, the safer you’ll be. 

  • Maintain 3 points of contact on the ladder. (Example: two feet and one hand; one foot and two hands)
  • When using an extension ladder, engage and check engagement on all locks.
  • Use the proper angle for your ladder. This is placing the base a quarter of the working length from the wall you’re leaning it against. 

Use a Harness

Almost every roofing professional will tell you that a harness is a necessity when working on a sloped roof or high on a building, and OSHA requires some type of fall protection system if the fall would be 6 feet or more. Your safety harness is part of a system that includes a rope, roof anchor, the harness itself, and other components. All of this equipment helps protect you in case there is a mishap and you fall. 

When you do climb the ladder, do so carefully and follow ladder safety guidelines. For example:

Research roof harness systems and find the best one for you and your roof, and always adhere to OSHA guidelines for using the system. When you have the right harness system in place, your dangerous job on the roof is much safer. 

Remove or Avoid Hazards

Before you begin working on your roof, take note of any hazards that you need to avoid or be extra careful working around. A damaged section of the roof, chimney, nearby trees, and even a power line that is a few feet away from the roof itself are all potential hazards that you need to be aware of  and remove, flag or barricade. A fall through an old, brittle, skylight can be just as hazardous as a fall off the edge of the roof.  

Clear any debris such as limbs or leaves off the roof as soon as possible. These can cause you to trip or slip. In addition, they can later damage your roof, so it’s best to make clearing these your top priority when you climb up to the roof. 

Besides removing natural debris, it is very important  to keep your work area clean – even more than when you’re working on the ground. A misplaced hammer can easily trip you if you’ve forgotten it’s there. Keep your work area clear the entire time you’re working on the roof. 

Be Aware of the Weather

When you’re watching for items on the roof, also keep an eye on the sky.  Be prepared for rain or wind to start unexpectedly and leave the roof as soon as the conditions become unsafe. In the summer heat, make sure you stay hydrated, take breaks,  and wear sunscreen. Remember that if it’s hot on the ground, it’ll be even hotter with the dark roof radiating heat back up. 

Any time you’re working, safety is a priority. There are additional hazards in high places, so be sure to follow all safety guidelines, move carefully while on the roof, and be as observant of your surroundings as possible. Arrive home safely every day!

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