Hazards to Look for When Working on the Roof

At some point this fall you will be doing home maintenance that might include cleaning the roof, inspecting roofing shingles, or checking up on the fascia and the gutters. You’re outside, the sun’s shining, there’s fresh air – it might not seem that dangerous, especially if you plan on being really careful. But there’s the potential risk all around. Here are some hazards to look out for when working the roof.

Roof Stability

If the roofing system has experienced significant damage that has not yet been completely repaired or there are structural issues from a recent flood that still need to be addressed, the roof could be unstable, collapsing under a person’s weight. Before climbing on to a possibly compromised roof, check to make sure that you are able to stand on it safely.

Slope or Configuration of the Roof

If it is steep or its configuration involves multiple levels, it can be dangerous to access the roof. The more pronounced the slope, the harder it is to maintain one’s balance.

Roofing Materials and Age

The older the roof, the more vulnerable the shingles and tiles are to damage. Regardless of age, standing or walking on a slate roof or a tile roof can cause cracking or fissure cracks to appear.

Inclement Weather

Choose a day that is calm and clear. Even a slight breeze can be enough to cause a stumble or a tumble. Plan to work on the roof ideally mid-morning to give the sun and air a chance to dissipate any dew. Don’t access the roof if it rained the previous day and is still not completely dry. While fall days aren’t subject to the intense heat of summer, high surface temperatures can be enough to soften roofing shingles, making them vulnerable to damage when walked on.

Live Wires

Beware aware of power lines and how close they are to where you will be working. Avoid electrical wires and utility cables that are part of a roofing system, particularly when making repairs or using power tools.

Slipping, Tripping, or Falling

Before actually working on the roof, sweep it free of debris. Wear closed-toe shoes with soft, rubber soles for traction. Ensure the soles are free of any residue; a damp leaf or a clump of dirt could contribute slipping or falling.

Practice the buddy system – never go up on the roof alone.

Don’t get too close to the edge. Most falls can be attributed to a person misjudging how far away they are from the roof’s edge.