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4 Basic Safety Precautions When Working on Your Roof

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In our last post, we talked about the importance of making sure your eavestroughs are clear in the fall, before temperatures drop below freezing. We’ve also stressed the importance of roof inspections as a way to spot early signs of trouble and to help extend the lifespan of your roof.

So we got to thinking, with all this talk of cleaning the eavestroughs and roof inspections, you might be tempted to get up onto your roof.

First, if you’re not familiar with working on a roof, we don’t recommend that you get onto your sloped roof under any circumstance. There’s a reason why “Roofers’ are listed on CNN’s list of 10 Most Dangerous Jobs.

Second, regardless of how familiar you are with working on a roof, we don’t recommend doing so on slate and tile roofs, on steeply-sloped roofs or any roof without using the right roof safety precautions.

Things can happen quickly on a roof and you need to have the precautions in place to minimize the risk and consequences of a fall. Use the following precautions even if you’re just going onto the roof for a quick inspection.

1. Conditions & Footwear

Only go onto a roof that is dry and free of debris, like autumn’s leaves. Wear soft rubber-soled shoes and make sure the soles are clean of mud and debris.

2. Mark Off the Work Area on the Ground

Let people on the ground know you’re on the roof above. You don’t want them to be struck by anything you drop while on the roof. If you do drop something, call out as loudly as you can.

3. Secure the Ladder

Make sure the ladder is set up on firm, level ground. Use an extension ladder that extends at least a metre above the roof line. Tie-off the top of the ladder to a secure point (not the eavestrough). Always keep two hands on the ladder before stepping off it onto the roof. Never climb on the rungs of the ladder that are above the roof line.

4. Move Slowly & Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Always move deliberately on the roof. Also, if you stop to check a shingle, or inspect the chimney, stay aware of your position on the roof, particularly your relationship to the edge.

Again, we don’t recommend that you go on your roof at all. You can do a fairly good inspection from the top of a roped-off ladder. But if you decide to go onto the roof, please exercise every precaution and be safe.

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