Getting to the Basics: Remodeling Projects

Six Safety Tips For Working On Your Roof

by Jill Jenkins

It's not uncommon to hear a tale of a homeowner or even a roofing professional falling off of a roof, sometimes with serious or even fatal consequences. The sad news is that many of these accidents could have been prevented by following a few basic safety tips. If you are headed up to your roof to make simple repairs, to put up holiday lights, and/or to check on your drainage system, make sure to adhere to these potentially life-saving precautions.

1. Never work on a wet roof. As urgent as a roof repair may seem, it's a bad idea to work on a wet, slippery roof. It's easy to lose your traction on sloping, wet asphalt shingles or metal roofing. Even wooden shingles can be treacherous when wet.

2. Wear suitable footwear. You also want to work in shoes that have a lot of traction. Soft-soled shoes are generally a better choice than hard-soled footwear.

3. Inspect your ladder carefully before climbing up to the roof. Your ladder is your lifeline when working on a roof. Before you begin, make sure that your ladder is secure and all of the rungs are tightly secured. Discard any old or makeshift ladders.

4. Wear a hardhat or helmet. You may think that protective headgear is silly just to put up your Christmas lights. However, taking this one precaution can help protect you from a serious head injury should you fall off of the roof despite your best efforts to prevent such an accident.

5. Climb the ladder safely. When using the ladder, make sure to only climb when you are facing the building, not way from it. In addition, climb only one rung a at time, no matter how agile you are, and don't attempt to carry too much equipment or supplies to the roof at one time.

6. Set your ladder safely. It's also important to leave several extra feet on your ladder over the edge of the roof for stability. Make sure that your ladder is securely placed on an even patch of ground and that you don't have to reach or stretch too far off of the ladder to reach your work area. Never leave your ladder unattended.

While there's no way to absolutely prevent a falling accident when working on your roof, avoiding working on a wet roof, wearing appropriate footwear with ample traction, and inspecting your ladder before you climb up to the roof can go a long way towards preventing a serious accident.