Roof Safety: 6 Essential Safety Tips

Before you even think about laying down your first shingle, review your roof safety rules first. Even the simplest job can incur hazards and safety risks when you’re working at such a height, even if your house is only one story. Even the experienced do-it-yourselfer should do everything he or she can to make roof work as safe as  possible and minimize any potential for injury, even if that means facing your fears of looking foolish in a safety harness. Forget the fashion faux pas—safety always comes first! Keep reading for 6 essential safety tips for working on your roof.

Tip 1 - Wear the Right Shoes

This may seem like common sense, but it bears pointing out: make sure to wear shoes or boots with rubber soles and a good tread when you go up on the roof to minimize the potential for slipping. Don’t even think about wearing those old boots with worn-away treads; the risk is too great.

Tip 2 - Clean it Up

Before you get started on whatever job you’re undertaking on the roof, start by giving it a good sweep and cleaning it of any accumulated dirt and debris. While you’re working, you don’t want to have anything up there that could trip you, and you don’t want to inadvertently kneel on old nails or the like, either. In fact, the roof should regularly be swept clean.

Tip 3 - Wear a Safety Harness

A safety harness isn’t always necessary, but if you’re working on a roof that is steeply pitched, or on the roof of a building that is several stories high, then err on the side of caution and wear a safety harness that is securely fastened to a tie off.

Tip 4 - Use a Gutter Guard

One way to keep your ladder safe and steady and to keep your gutters protected as you’re up on the roof is to use a gutter-guard. The gutter-guard basically consists of any scrap piece of wood or plywood that you fasten to the roof deck, put a notch in it, lean the ladder legs against the notch and tie in place. You can also put some shingle bundles against the feet of the ladder to help keep it steady and make sure it doesn’t slide.

Tip 5 - Install Toe Hold

This tip is also particularly good if you’re working on a steeply pitched roof. In order to help keep your balance and prevent slippage, you can install your own temporary toe holds to help your feet keep their grip. Simply take several wood cleats measuring 2 by 4 inches (you can also use adjustable roof jacks for this) and nail them to the roof deck. When you’re done with your work, simply remove them.

Tip 6 - Avoid Watery Roofs

Whenever there’s been some kind of precipitation on your roof (whether it’s rain, snow, ice, dew or the first frost of the year), just put your work on hold until the roof dries (or thaws, as the case may be). For this reason, do not undertake roof work in the winter, unless it’s an emergency.