When tackling any sort of construction work, safety should be priority number one. People will unknowingly put themselves in dangerous situations by skipping vital safety precautions. Working on a roof can be especially hazardous, so let’s look at some of the steps you can take to do the job safely.
Organize Your Work Area
Make sure that your work area is clean and organized before starting any construction work, and make sure any pets or children are blocked off from your work area. Also, identify any hazards such as power lines or ice patches.
Manage the Risk of Falling
Most construction work come with the risk of falling, and roof construction even more so. Take the following steps to avoid this risk:
- Never work on a roof that is wet or icy.
- Make sure there are no tools or construction materials in your walking path.
- Wear shoes that fully protect your feet.
- If you are working on a slanted surface, wear a harness that is securely anchored to the roof.
- Make sure that your ladder is stable before climbing it.
- Wear a helmet to minimize injury in the case of a fall.
Always make sure that your ladder is in good working condition before climbing. Never climb a damaged or home-made ladder.
Make sure to place your ladder on solid, level ground. Always secure the top of the ladder to the roof with rope or a wooden brace. Don’t rest the ladder against a gutter, as they are often unstable and loosely secured to the roof-deck. Your ladder should extend at least two feet above the roof line, giving you something to grab when moving from the roof to the ladder.
When climbing a ladder, always face the steps, and climb one step at a time. As an extra safety precaution, have someone stand at the base of the ladder to hold it while you climb.
When not in use, safely store the ladder on the ground.
Never position a ladder near electrical lines, as electricity can arc several feet from a wire to a ladder. Use a wood or fiberglass ladder if you plan on working near electrical wires.
Moving Construction Materials
Always use your legs to lift heavy construction material, rather than your back. The last thing you want to do is fatigue your body when working on a high roof. Carry only a small amount of materials at a time, especially when climbing a ladder, as a heavy load can make your ladder unstable.
If it can be avoided, you should not work during extremely hot or cold weather conditions. Roofing in extreme temperatures often results in damaged or warped shingles that will not form a proper seal.
Make sure to use the proper materials for your specific roof type. Using improper materials, or improperly installing the correct materials, can lead to roof damage and costly repairs. Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to install various types of roofing materials.
Consult Online Resources
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers a list of guidelines to follow to avoid injury when working on your roof. We recommend you consult their Guidance Document on “Fall Protection in Residential Construction”
Construction Solutions provides a database of information on various work hazards and useful control measures to eliminate many of the dangers that come with roof construction.
Contact a Qualified Roofing Expert
Should you not feel confident in your ability to safely perform the necessary roof construction, consult with the experts. Make sure the contractor you choose is licensed to work in your state or region, and that they will follow the necessary safety precautions.
Roof construction can be intimidating. Whether you decide to do the work yourself, or hire a professional, knowing the proper safety measures will help you ensure that the job gets done right.