According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are the third leading cause of death in all construction-related fatalities. Falls from ladders have the highest incidence related to any home maintenance besides slipping from unprotected roofs. Following are things that should be taken into consideration by someone who will be working on these hazardous repairs:
- Ladder– Before climbing up a ladder for inspection of the top of the house, make sure that the ladder is stable. Refer to the manufacturer’s manual to make sure what the maximum weight capacity is for the ladder and follow the instructions on how to properly set up and position the ladder for stability.
- Fall Protection Systems– There are fall protection systems that OSHA has specified in the workplace; these same systems can be applied when doing home roofing repairs. Guard rails, personal fall arrest systems, and safety nets are three types of systems the agency has specified, and any one of these systems could be used for such repairs. Only climb onto the roof with personal fall protection in place, including a full body harness and a lanyard.
- Hire a Contractor– It is recommended to hire a contractor, especially if the home roof is already above two stories and there is any serious damage to it. A person should never get onto a steeply graded housetop as they will be placed in a very hazardous situation.
- Avoid Damaged Areas– Avoiding walking on severely damaged areas that appear to have loose shingles or tiles to avoid slipping and possibly plummeting off the housetop.
- Avoid Snow or Ice– A person should not ever attempt to walk on a roof covered with snow or ice because it is extremely slippery, especially if it has a steep slope.
- Dry Roof Only– The entire top of the house should be dry before a person walks on it. No one should attempt to walk on the top of the residence when it is still wet.
- Safety with Power Tools– When working on a roof with power tools, the person should protect their hands by wearing gloves that are sturdy and make sure that the power tools are plugged into an outlet with ground fault protection. In cases where the power tool is excessively noisy, using ear protection is recommended when the tool is in use.
There is a great danger when working in hard-to-access areas on tops of homes and any person should have the appropriate safety gear and protection. A safety harness is an important tool that allows a person to securely access those hard-to-reach areas of the roof. Learning the following important steps on how to properly use the harness can save a person’s life from the real threat of falling:
- Read Instructions– Carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions and fasten the harness around the body accordingly. Make sure to get the correct fit for the harness.
- Wear Harness Properly– Ensure that the harness is properly tightened for a snug fit. Get rid of loose or dangling straps as this may cause slipping.
- Secure Safety Rope Anchors– At the peak of the housetop, drill screws into rafters which will then make the anchors secure. The safety rope must be connected to the ring on the roof anchor.
- Use Lanyard Properly– Lanyards should be attached to the D-ring and when advancing along, be sure to adjust the lanyard by squeezing the rope.
Roof repairs that involve climbing and walking on the structure are really best accomplished by experienced professionals. People who are comfortable in performing such tasks need to be sure they take extra precautions to avoid slipping. Using safety gear such as a harness, along with common sense, can make the task easy and safe and eliminate danger in roofing repairs!