Safety Tips for Working (or Walking) on a Roof

To many people, you don’t have to ask them twice to never step foot on a roof. The combination of heights, pitch, and no real safe access onto the roof is enough for a majority of homeowners to not even own a ladder. However, in order to achieve a maximum life span there are times when the roof needs to be inspected and repaired. Homeowners aren’t the only ones who need to practice safety when climbing onto a roof. Whether you’re a DIYer or a contractor, here’s a quick brush up on the safety rules for working and walking on roofs.

Start Early – For Your Sake and the Roof

If you’re going to be doing any roof work, it’s always recommended to be an early bird. For one, most roof work is done during the Summer in which temperatures get increasingly hot as the sun nears its afternoon peak. In fact, some roofing contractors will work a 4-hour shift in the morning and another one at dusk just to avoid the heat. Contractors in Arizona even prefer working at night under the lights on new home builds in order to stay out of dangerous 100° plus temperatures during the day.

Another reason to access your roof while the temperatures are manageable is because shingles heat up under the sun. The shingles turn soft and thus the risk of damage when walking across them increases exponentially. One thing to remember when accessing the roof early in the morning is to make sure dew and condensation aren’t making the surface slippery.

Make Sure You Hydrate

Walking around the roof is an exercise, especially on a steep roof where it takes three moves just to make one. You’re obviously going to sweat with this physical exertion combined with being under the constant glare of the sun. It’s important to replace as much of this lost body water as possible by staying hydrated throughout the day. Take breaks as needed as well.
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Don’t Risk It In the Rain

While the sun is the most frequent combatant to people on the roof, it’s rain that could be the most dangerous. Specifically, rain makes the roof surface slippery and difficult to navigate. Many a contractor has tried to finish a roofing job in the rain and some homeowners have ventured up top to fix their satellite dish in a storm but it really isn’t worth it.

Dress Cool and Comfortable

You can combat the effects of the sun by dressing coolly with clothes that wick moisture away from your body. Another thing you might want to consider is a comfortable pair of roofing shoes – many people prefer walking on a roof with tennis shoes even over work boots. Athletic shoes are lighter and cause less damage to the roof surface but still provide good grip.

Working on a roof is a slippery slope (literally). On one hand, you want to be as comfortable and flexible as possible yet you still may need to carry tools and materials needed for the job. The best approach is to always take it slow and be safer rather than ultimately sorry.