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35 Roofing Safety Tips

35 Roofing Safety Tips

Roofing safety tips

If you’re planning some DIY roof work, safety must always be your first priority. If you skip these necessary considerations because you’re eager to get to work, there’s a greater likelihood that an accident will happen— so why push your luck? Roofing is a dangerous profession. In fact, it has been reported that 6 roofers die each year in the U.S. from falls alone, not accounting for electrocutions and tool mishaps. So, remember to take these roofing precautions to avoid serious injury or even death.

General Safety

  • Make sure your work area is clean, organized and blocked off from pets and children. Take notice of each potentially dangerous area in your site, like power lines and unsafe roof access areas.

  • Never work when the roof is wet or slippery

  • Avoid working on your roof during extremely hot or cold weather. Extreme temperatures can cause shingles to become damaged and prevent them from sealing or lying properly.

  • Wear soft-soled footwear for optimum traction

Take advantage of the fall-related safety equipment available to you, such as a harness and ropes with a roof anchor into the framing of the roof structure. Also toe boards and brackets that you can walk along on.

Ladder safety

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (http://www.osha.gov/) has important safety guidelines for portable ladders. They are as follows:

  • Read and follow all the warning labels on the ladder, and never use a ladder that is damaged

  • Avoid electrical hazards by looking for power lines overhead before handling a ladder. Never use a metal ladder near power lines.

  • Always maintain 3 points of contact on the ladder while climbing (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand). Keep your weight near the center of the rungs and always face the ladder while climbing.

  • Only use ladders and their accessories (ladder levelers, jacks or hooks) for their intended purposes.

  • Make sure your ladder is free of any slippery material on the rungs, steps or feet.

  • Do not use a step ladder as a single ladder or in a partially closed position.

  • Do not use the top rung of a ladder as a step unless it was designed for that purpose.

  • Only use a ladder on stable and level surfaces unless it has been secured at the top or bottom to prevent displacement.

  • Do not place a ladder on any unstable base to obtain additional height.

  • Do not move or reposition a ladder while a person or equipment is on it.

  • A ladder used to access an elevated surface (your roof) must extend at least 3 feet above the point of support (gutters or eaves). Do not stand on any part of the ladder that extends beyond its support.

  • For the safest angle, place the base of the ladder a quarter of the working length of the ladder away from the wall or other vertical surface. For example, if your eaves are 10 feet from the ground, your ladder base should be placed 2.5 feet out from your gutters.

  • When working in a location where your ladder might be displaced by other work activities you must secure the ladder to prevent displacement, or a barricade must be erected to keep traffic away from the ladder.

  • Make sure that any locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.

  • Do not exceed the ladder’s maximum load rating.

  • Make sure you don’t have to stretch or reach more than your arm’s length while standing on the ladder.

  • Never leave a ladder unattended.

Electrical safety

  • We cannot stress enough how vital it is to be careful around power lines. If you cannot avoid them, call your utility company before you start working.

  • Make sure you are using a wooden or fiberglass ladder instead of metal, and be extra careful when using metal flashing. Remember that electricity can jump or “arc” to a metal object several feet away.

  • Never touch hot wires with your hands or tools.

Nail Gun Safety

  • A pneumatic nail gun is a dangerous tool and can easily become a weapon. So, it should always be handled with extreme care. Never point a nail gun at another person.

  • Make sure the safety mechanism is working properly, and never tamper with it.

  • Only pull the trigger when the “business end” of the nail gun is pressed firmly against the material you intend to fasten. Do not “shoot” nails from a nail gun.

  • Make sure your nail gun is properly cleaned, inspected and well-lubricated before use.

  • Do not rest a nail gun against your body to prevent misfires.

  • Always disconnect the air supply as soon as you are finished using a nail gun, and never work on the tool while it is connected to the power supply.

Handling Material

  • You will be surprised at how much material goes into most roofing jobs. You might be inclined to carry more than one bundle at a time, but this is a dangerous move, especially when climbing up ladders and walking across steep rooftops.

  • Store material close to the roof in order to save time and energy when retrieving material.

  • Remember to always lift with your legs rather than your back, and take a break when you’re tired to avoid injury.

  • Always follow the shingle manufacturer’s instructions and use the preferred installation and repair materials for your specific roof type.

Not Feeling Up To It?

Don’t trust your roof to just any contractor. Choosing Pacific West Roofing, LLC assures that you’ll be working with a quality, dependable roofing contractor with a proven reputation for customer satisfaction. We are licensed, bonded, and insured in Oregon and Washington, and our work is backed by a 10-year workmanship warranty. If you need help with your roofing project, contact Pacific West Roofing today!

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Showing 7 comments
  • Bob Strong

    Thank you for this excellent advice on ladder safety. We just had a new roof access ladder installed in our office building. I want all of my employees to know the safety rules before any of them start using it.

  • Deanna R. Jones

    My husband knows a few simple roof repairs, so he seems like he knows what he’s doing, but I still think that he could do more to be safer while working. It seems like the information about ladder safety tips would be the most help to him. The ladder usually appears pretty wobbly, so I’m always nervous when I see him use it. I should have my husband take a look at his list so that he can start getting in the habit of keeping the ladder more stable.

    • Pacific West Roofing

      Remember Deanna, the first thing you do when you get up the ladder is to tie off the ladder to the gutter spikes. This will set him up for success in the future. The next step is to set up toe board brackets under the shingles and then set your 2 x 6 in the bracket to set up your first toe board plank. This is not an easy thing to learn but it is very teachable once you see it done. Once you have the toe boards set up you get up to the ridge and set your roof anchor and tie off to it with a harness that is on your body. Again, this is not for the lighthearted or the inexperienced but once he is shown he will learn it for a lifetime.

  • Mia Boyd

    Thanks for the information. Like you said, do-it-yourself roofing can be pretty dangerous. That’s why it’s so crucial that you hire a professional. That should ensure that everything is done correctly and that no one is hurt. Do you have any other special tips?

    • Pacific West Roofing

      Well Mia,
      For fun I always so “Never step back to admire your work” but seriously though, always tied down your ladders to the gutter system, set up your first toeboard at the ladder then go up to the top and mount your roof anchor and hook yourself in with your harness. This is the first step for doing any work on a steep roof.

  • Pacific West Roofing

    Bob you should set up a training course for them!

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