A Plan for All Seasons: How to Stay Safe on the Roof

A rooftop climb should be undertaken with care.

A rooftop climb should be undertaken with care.

Each season brings specific challenges to rooftop safety. We’ve blogged about the most effective precautions to take in the summer, as well as the importance of protective eyewear when the sun is especially relentless. But what about tried-and-true guidelines to follow all year long?

We’ve got you covered. From preparing well for your climb to the top, to being smart both while you’re up there and on the trip back down, here are tips for working safely on the roof, all year long.

When to go

Don’t head to the roof if it’s wet, when you’re more likely to slip, or when it’s dark, when your visibility will be limited. The early morning hours, after the sun is up, offer the best rooftop time, with mitigated heat and plenty of light.

What to wear

Dress in clothes that allow easy movement but aren’t too loose––you don’t want to worry about a sleeve or pant leg getting hooked on a piece of equipment or part of the building itself that happens to jut out. Wear comfortable shoes featuring soles with dependeable traction. Gloves often come in handy, especially when you’re climbing a ladder and need help with a firm grip. Always top it all off with a helmet, which can be a literal lifesaver in the event of a fall.

The ascent

Before you head to the roof, let someone else know you’re going­­––especially if you’re going alone. If your commercial building has a ladder attached, climb with care. If you’re setting up a ladder, place it on level ground. Make sure your ladder is also far away from any electrical wires and boxes––placing it too close to active wiring creates a real safety hazard that has caused serious injuries for numerous roofers.

The ladder’s angle should be about 75 degrees––that’s approximately one foot for every four feet in height. Brace the ladder at the bottom using plywood or a similar material––or tie it to the structure or a stake in the ground. You’ll also want to attach the top of the ladder to the building––probably using strong rope––so that it can’t fall back.

On top

Falls remain the leading cause of death for construction workers, so take your time on the roof seriously and slowly. We recommend installing Edge Defense™ for optimal safety. Placed around the perimeter of the roof, Edge Defense™ mats contain a network of electrodes that trigger an alarm when the designated weight limit is detected. Bright yellow and UV-coated, the system also offers an additional visual aid to increase awareness of the roof’s edge.

The descent

Always climb down facing the ladder. Don’t overload––make multiple trips if necessary in order to confidently climb with tools. Lastly, don’t rush: the few seconds you’d gain aren’t worth the heightened threat of injury.

Roofers, what did we miss? We’d love to hear from you––share your best safety practices on our Facebook page, or tweet your pointers with the hashtag #roofsafety.


Photo by Kristen Bruley, via Snapwire with Creative Commons License


Posted on: October 8, 2015