No matter how large or small a roof project may be, there’s one thing that all roof contractors have in common: you’re going to use a ladder to climb up onto a roof, one way or another. Ladders can be extremely dangerous if not properly used. It’s important to remember the following roof ladder safety precautions so that you don’t cause any serious harm to yourself or someone else.
Roof Ladder Safety
Focusing on roof ladder safety can save you a serious headache in the long run by providing a stable entry and exit point onto a roofing structure. First and foremost, consider the safety rating of your ladder; it does matter. When shopping for a ladder, you’ll find that ladders are rated based on how much weight they can safely hold. For the greatest level of support during construction, choose a higher rated ladder at 1A or 300 pounds.
Experienced roofers agree that the best ladder material by far is fiberglass. Wood ladders may be cheaper, but wood will easily deteriorate when used for several seasons in an outdoor setting.
Aluminum is a user-friendly, lightweight ladder material for residential use, although aluminum ladders may not be permitted at industrial plants.
Ladder Positioning and Setup
A ladder should be positioned on a firm, level surface to extend from 3’-3 ½’ feet above the eaves of a roof. If a level service isn’t available, adjustable ladder leg levelers can be used as an alternative. The distance of a ladder foot should be properly angled from the supporting wall of a structure at one quarter of the height of a wall.
When a ladder is used throughout the course of a workday, it’s important to tie off the bottom rung with a stake hammered into the ground and an eye bolt fastened into the fascia at the top of the ladder.
Safety Precaution While Using a Ladder
Once on a ladder, roofers are cautioned never to over-reach on either side of a ladder. A basic rule of thumb to follow on a construction site is to always keep a belt buckle between ladder rails when hammering, nailing, or reaching for roofing materials.
As you begin a roofing project for the day, inspect a ladder setup thoroughly before stepping foot on the first rung. A ladder should be checked from top to bottom for visible signs of wear and tear or damage. It should also be assessed for correct positioning and secure anchoring before use.
- When ascending or descending, always face the ladder.
- Keep one hand on the ladder at all times.
- Never use the top of a ladder as a step.
- Never shift or move a ladder while occupied.
- Never carry a load that could tip a ladder off balance.
Understanding the basics of on-the-job construction safety will make or break the success of your project. At the very least, taking safety precautions will protect expensive tools and prolong the life of your equipment. In more dire circumstances, roofing safety could be a matter of life and death.