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Homeowner roofing safety

by Bill Steinmetz

If you own your home, you are responsible for maintaining your home's infrastructure, including its roof. Some homeowners leave all roof system maintenance and inspection duties to a roofing professional. However, other homeowners are comfortable performing activities such as cleaning gutters. NRCA discourages homeowners from stepping on their roofs and recommends homeowners hire a roofing professional for any work that should be performed on the roof. Before you perform work involving your roof, you should be aware of some roofing safety basics.

For example, there are various dangers involved when using extension ladders, including falls and electrocution. The placement of a ladder is important.

Extension ladders should be set on a solid footing and have appropriate safety feet to prevent displacement at the bottom. The top of the ladder should be securely tied off to the house and extend 3 feet above the landing area to allow you to hold it as you exit the ladder. The base of the ladder should be 1 foot away from the building for every 4 feet of building height. A common way to measure this is to stand at the base of the ladder and extend your arms straight; they should just touch the ladder.

Always keep ladders—especially aluminum ladders—at least 10 feet away from electrical lines. Electrical line sheathing is for corrosion protection only. If you or the aluminum ladder you are holding touch an electrical line, you could be electrocuted. Even wood ladders can conduct electricity.

Additionally, always keep your belt buckle between the ladder rails, and maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times. Never carry anything up or down a ladder that could cause you to lose your balance.

Following are some other safety tips to keep in mind:
  • Always wear non-skid construction footwear.
  • All electrical cords and tools should have ground fault circuit interrupter protection to help prevent electrical shocks.
  • If you are working alone, make sure someone knows you are working on your roof.
  • Have your cell phone with you and located where it will still be handy if you fall.
  • Never work on your roof after consuming alcohol or medications that cause drowsiness.
  • On hot days, drink plenty of fluids and take frequent breaks.
  • Working while well-rested will help you do and feel your best.
  • After a heavy snowfall, you may be concerned about the amount of snow on your roof; however, getting on your roof to remove now is dangerous. Long-handled snow rakes allow you to remove snow from the ground. Removing large amounts of snow off a steep slope should be done by roofing professionals.
Bill Steinmetz is NRCA's risk management consultant.

Date : 6/10/2014