How to Walk Safely on Your Roof

Dec 30, 2022

Walking on your roof is incredibly dangerous. In a 2014 study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 647 fatal falls from roofs. Roofers are trained to walk on sloped surfaces, so contact a roofing professional first if you are planning on doing repairs to your roof.

But, if you have absolutely no other choice and must get to your roof, here's what you can do.

1. Secure the ladder

Fiberglass ladders are durable, but aluminum ladders can also work if you need something more lightweight. Secure the ladder to an anchor point with a cord or rope to prevent it from sliding side to side.

When placing the ladder against the roof, put in on level ground with no bumps or divots. Upon placement, ensure that the top extends no less than 3 ft. above the roof.

Get a spotter to help keep the ladder steady while you climb. This will help give you three points of contact, which helps secure the ladder even more.

Also, when placing the ladder, it should be at a ratio of 4:1; for every 4 meters the top of the ladder goes, the bottom of the ladder should go out 1 meter (1 meter=3.28 feet).

2. Wear a harness

It is absolutely critical to wear a harness if walking on a roof. They are pricey (some can run you around $20), but they will help prevent you from falling.

With a harness, you will also need to secure a roof bracket onto your home. Anchor the bracket on a truss or rafter. This will guarantee that the bracket is embedded in solid wood, as evidenced by the solid sound you will hear when anchoring.

If a roof bracket is out of the question, sling a long rope across the home, then tie it to a tree or other firmly embedded yard piece. This is much riskier but can do in a pinch.

3. Get proper footwear

Footwear with soles that provide a strong grip will help you maintain a solid footing on sloped roofs. A soft, rubber sole is suggested for maximum grip. Recommended footwear includes:

  • Hiking boots
  • Approach boots
  • Maritime deck sneakers

4. Get a great toolbelt

Do not carry tools in your hands while walking up a ladder. This risks a secure handhold because you didn't want to make an extra trip or spend $20 on a toolbelt.

5. Ensure proper weather conditions

As a rule, avoid climbing or stepping on wet roofs unless absolutely necessary to reduce the risk of slips and falls.

6. Clear the roof

Leaves, twigs, and dead insects that have collected on the roof and in gutters can cause injury on uncovered hands. Wear gloves to safely remove debris from the roof.

Once done, use a hose to wash extra debris off the roof to remove extra algae and mold. These materials can cause slick or uncertain surfaces, which could lead to you losing your footing. Be careful if working with chemicals to hose down your roof.

7. Mark off your work area

Create a chalk line/rope barrier of roughly 2 ft. around the bottom of your ladder on the ground. This gives enough space for tools to fall off the roof safely. Safety is of the utmost importance. If you live in San Antonio and you're looking to inspect your roof, contact Cloud Roofing first. Walking on your roof is incredibly dangerous, so it's best to trust the professional first.

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Cloud Roofing offers free inspections and quotes on all of our roofing services. If you think your roof may require repair or replacement, reach out to us today!
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