As roofing contractors, we should be fully aware of the dangers that come with working on roofs. It is our duty not only to keep ourselves safe but those around us as well with the proper roof safety. On-the-job falls, mainly roof falls, account for the largest percentage of fatalities in the construction industry. This makes it all the more important to keep following safety procedures and offer continuing education and training to all employees.
OSHA has a very helpful brochure with more detailed procedures and safety guidelines that should be implemented within your construction company and at every worksite. A significant section is the one on how to use a Personal Fall Arrest System (PFAS), including how to install a roof anchor, use a safety harness, and keep your work area free of hazards.
27 Roofing Safety Tips to Keep You and Your Team Safe
- Wear the proper soft-soled footwear to create traction and avoid slips and falls.
- Never work on the roof when it is wet or slippery.
- Never work during extremely hot or cold weather. Temperature extremes can affect how shingles seal and lay during installation, plus conditions are not optimal for worker safety.
- Before you being work, ensure the area around the house is blocked off from people, pets, and children. Make sure the perimeter is large enough to keep everyone (people, pets, children) at a safe distance from falling debris.
- Keep the working area clean and organized — pick up after yourselves!
- Cover any skylights or other obstacles on the roof with highly visible tarps or tape to prevent falling through or tripping.
- Check the area and be aware of any power lines over or near the roof.
- Never use a metal ladder near power lines.
- Make sure your ladder is dry and free of any straps or other hazards on the rungs, steps, or feet.
- In line with #9, never use a ladder that is damaged (duh).
- Always where a roofing harness when up on the roof.
- A well-known rule is to maintain 3 points of contact on the ladder at all times while climbing up or down. That means two hands one foot, or two feet one hand.
- Only use ladders for their intended use. e.g., Never use a step ladder as a single ladder.
- Unless designed as such, never use the top ladder rung as a step. Never step on any of the rungs that extend 3 feet or more above the top of the eaves or gutter.
- If a ladder is not tall enough, never attempt to set it on something else for more height. Get a ladder of appropriate height!
- Make sure your ladder is set on a level, sturdy surface as well.
- Follow the ladder instructions such as maximum load rating and how to engage the locks properly.
- NEVER point a nail gun at another person — a blatantly obvious safety tip but a necessary reminder.
- In the same vein, never rest the nail gun close to your body.
- Before every job, ensure the nail gun’s safety mechanisms are working, and untampered.
- Nail guns do need to be cleaned and lubricated. Create a schedule to do regular inspections and ensure tools are working correctly.
- Nails should never be shot from the gun — the trigger should only be pulled when the end of the nail gun is firmly placed against the shingle or surface you intend to fasten with a nail.
- And of course, always disconnect the pressurized air supply when you are finished using the nail gun, or if you need to fix or adjust the nail gun at any point.
- Do not carry loads of material up the ladder with you — use a pully system and raise materials needed up in buckets.
- For personal safety, lift with your legs, not your back! And if you are ever feeling tired or overheated, take a water break. The last thing you want is to faint while up on a roof.
- Store materials currently being used close to the roof or house to save time and energy lifting them up to the roof.
- Last but not least, always follow manufacturer instructions for the shingles and materials being installed. Certain materials may require different tools and installation techniques. Know before you go!
As always, we always encourage homeowners to always hire a professional roofing contractor to do any roof cleaning, repairs, or installation. These tips are a helpful reminder, especially for teams who get into the swing of things and unintentionally take a casual approach to safety protocol and procedures.
Again, refer to manufacturer guidelines, instructions, and the OSHA safety manuals to ensure a safe work site and proper roof installation. For more information and to hire a team focused on safety, contact Yellowfin Roofing today!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are basic, roofing safety best practices?
For starters, being cautions near the edge of the roof, making sure your ladder is stable before climbing it, and ensuring three points of contact with the ladder on your way up. Making sure your weight is pulling you towards the roof is also crucial for making sure you stay safe.
What safety equipment or gear should I have for working on my roof?
First and foremost, you need boots that are supportive, and grip the roof. The last thing you want is shoes that either don’t support your weight, or fail to grip the roof properly. A harness is also a good option if it’s required in your area, or if your roof has a very steep pitch.
What are common safety mistakes I should avoid while on my roof?
The most common mistakes usually revolve around a lack of awareness. Be aware of where you are, where you are stepping, and where you are setting tools. You could easily fall off, or drop something onto someone else if you are not being cautious.