ENSURING EVERYONE ON YOUR ROOF IS SAFE
While we are always quick to recommend that you avoid walking on your roof as much as possible, there are many times where you simply have to get on your roof. If you find yourself in a situation where you must get on the roof, it’s extremely important that you keep safety your top priority. Nothing on your roof is worth sustaining a life-altering injury for. Follow these tips to ensure you stay safe while on your roof.
Preemptive Actions to Stay Safe
Before you ever get on your roof, there are certain things you should do or should have already done to ensure it is safe. Some of these can be done by you in an office (studying the plans), and some can be done by the person who installed and works on your roof. However, you should pay attention to each of these items to keep yourself and everyone else on your roof safe.
Study the Roof Plan
Knowing what the roof looks like before you get on it may seem like overkill, but there are often skylights that you may not expect or a ladder that you might not see that can save you time on the roof. It’s important that you have some idea of what the roof looks like before you get on it.
Having guardrails installed on your roof is about as safe as you can get. Something near the edge of the roof that both warns you of the edge and prevents you from falling off is very important to the safety of everyone who steps foot on your roof.
You can use a walkway to provide a non-slip surface to prevent falls, while also guiding foot traffic where it should go on your roof. There are certain spots you may want people to avoid. Putting walkways in other areas are a great way to keep everyone out of those danger spots.
A roof hatch can be a bit of an investment, but it is significantly safer than climbing an exterior ladder to access the roof. The hatch allows you to step from a safe place (interior ladder or stairs) directly onto the roof. Rather than climbing a ladder on the edge of the building, a roof hatch ensures you are completely safe the entire time.
Ladders can be used to access the roof (if a hatch isn’t installed) or to access different roof sections that may have different heights. A fixed ladder is safer than setting up a new ladder each time you access the roof or a specific roof section. The key to fixed ladders is that they must be properly inspected, as they are constantly exposed to the elements.
Permanently installed tie-off anchors will allow anyone working on your roof to wear a harness and tie themselves off to the roof. This will prevent a fall from the roof, which can save lives.
Remaining Safe Once You’re On the Roof
There are more things you can do to stay safe once on the roof. More things to keep in mind after the preemptive safety steps:
Use the Walkways
The walkways are there for a reason, and it’s to keep you (and the roof) safe! Stay on the walkways to avoid slipping, getting too close to the edge, or walking near any dangerous areas on the roof.
Wear Proper Footwear
There are certain shoes that are appropriate for a roof, such as work boots with good grip. Loafers, high-heels, flip-flops, or similar shoes are not recommended on a roof for obvious reasons.
Stay Clear of the Edge
Make sure you stay clear of the edge unless you are tied off. There’s no reason to be near the edge without being tied off. The risk of falling off the roof is simply too great and is not worth your life.
Walk in Pairs
One of the biggest dangers of working on your roof is getting distracted. You are focused on the repair you’re making, the inspection your performing, or the line you’re running. It’s easy to lose track of where you are. The roof edge, skylights, and other fall hazards all pose a threat. Having a partner with you who is only focused on where the group is walking is a great way to stay focused on the task at hand without risking your safety.
Tie Yourself Off
If you have anchors installed that you can tie yourself off to, then use them! Don’t think it’s a waste of time tying yourself off. Falls may be rare, but the dangers of a fall are greater than the time it takes to tie off.
Staying safe on your roof isn’t hard, it just takes a little time and attention. Considering the alternative, falling and getting seriously hurt or worse, it’s worth the extra time and money to stay safe. Some of the equipment isn’t cheap and can be a hassle to set up. But if these precautions mean you stay alive to go home to your family, it was all worth it.