We’re not kidding around today, folks. According to the National Safety Council, over 6,000 people die from falls each year, many of them falling off of ladders or roofs, and thousands of others are severely injured (source). So before you climb onto your roof or ladder, please read over our roof safety tips. And above all else, don’t work on your roof at all if you aren’t comfortable doing so. Clean gutters, sparkling Christmas lights, and replaced shingles are not worth the risk you take when you climb up that ladder. If your body isn’t in great condition, you’re afraid of heights, or you simply don’t know what you’re doing, leave the job to someone more experienced. Find a trusted roofing contractor and rest easy.
However, if you do feel up to the job, read through our roof safety tips to be sure that you’ve taken all the proper precautions.
Roof Safety Tips
- Don’t work on your roof alone. You need someone else there, whether they are on the ground or up on the roof with you. This person will act as your safety monitor and assist you if necessary.
- Assess the roof’s condition beforehand. If it is wet, icy, or slippery, wait for a better day. Also beware of leaves, which can create a very slippery surface.
- Only work during the daylight, when there is no precipitation in the forecast, and it’s not too windy. Wait for an optimal day—dry, clear, not too sunny, not too windy—before you climb onto your roof. If you’re in a rush and the conditions aren’t great, call in a professional.
- Wear appropriate shoes. They should completely encase your foot, provide friction, and be securely fastened. No flip-flops!
- Inspect your ladder beforehand. Look for loose or damaged rungs, steps, rails, or braces. Be sure that all of the hinges, fasteners, and safety feet are in good shape. If the steps are dirty or slippery, clean them off and dry thoroughly.
- Set up your ladder properly. Place it in a safe, sturdy location with a solid, level surface. If you have a stepladder, open it fully and lock the spreaders. If you have a straight ladder, place it against the wall at a 4-to-1 ratio (1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet of height). The ladder should extend 3 feet above the edge of the roof.
- Climb up and down the ladders slowly and carefully. Use both hands and face the ladder.
- Don’t carry tools up a ladder in your hands. Carry your equipment on a belt or in a small backpack instead.
- Always keep a hand on the ladder and stay centered. Maintain your balance, don’t stand on the topmost rungs, and always keep one hand on the ladder for stability. Ignoring any of these roof safety tips could cause the ladder to topple.
- Use a harness if necessary and walk slowly. If your roof is very high or slopes a lot, or if you’re just (understandably) nervous, use a safety harness tied to something sturdy, like a chimney. And whether you use a harness or not, walk (or crawl) very slowly and carefully.
- Organize your tools and any debris. If you aren’t organized, you might slip on a piece of trash or trip over a tool. It’s a simple, but dangerous mistake.
- Focus. Stay aware of your positioning, any nearby hazards, and the task at hand. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted.
Finally, the most important of our roof safety tips is that you never go up on a roof if you aren’t comfortable doing so. Maybe your knees have been acting up. Maybe you’ve gotten too old for strenuous physical labor. Maybe you just don’t like heights! Whatever the case, don’t be embarrassed about it. Just call a professional, like Adam Cowherd Construction in Springfield, MO. We’d be happy to help!