As a landlord or property owner, you are responsible for maintaining a safe roofing system for all rental units. Yet you may not know what goes into roof maintenance or how can you stay safe while working on the roof. Follow these roofing safety tips to protect yourself, your property, and your renters.
Inspect the Roofing System Regularly
Regular inspections of the roofing system will help you keep the roof clean, perform preventative maintenance to extend the lifespan of your roof, and ultimately protect your investment property. Despite the many benefits of regular roof inspections, all too often landlords don’t get up on the roof, thus they don’t know anything’s wrong until a crisis occurs that requires a major investment of time and money.
As a general rule, get up on the roof in spring and fall to clean gutters, clear debris, and check things out — if you have solar panels, you may want to check more frequently. When the gutters are properly cleaned, they will drain water away from the roof. This prevents water damage and rot. If you don’t clean the gutters regularly, they could become so clogged and heavy that they detach from the house and damage your roof.
If a storm results in downed branches, it’s a wise idea to inspect the roof. Remove debris and look for damage to shingles, which may have been blown off or damaged by heavy winds. Rain can penetrate these gaps.
Know common signs of a roofing hazard; these indicate it’s time to call a roofer. These include damaged/missing shingles, cracked shingles, dark streaks or moss, and significant wear and tear. Rather than delay maintenance until the roof fails, get a professional’s opinion on your roof’s condition, estimated lifespan, and best options. If you do nothing and a renter gets hurt from a roof collapse, you could wind up in an expensive and stressful legal battle.
How to Get on the Roof Safely
Inspecting the roofing system means getting on the roof. One of the largest risks in roof maintenance is getting up to the roof via ladder. If your ladder is improperly placed, you could fall and suffer serious injury or death.
As a general rule, place the ladder one foot from the exterior wall for every four feet in ladder height. So a ladder that’s 12 feet tall must be at least 3 feet from the exterior wall. Before you start climbing, ensure the feet of the ladder are securely anchored on level ground and the top of the ladder is securely pinned to the roof. This helps the ladder stay stable as you climb.
Only go up on the roof when the weather is good. Rain, snow, and ice can make the roofing system slippery. If your roof needs maintenance in the winter — for instance, if you need to shovel snow to avoid a roof collapse — call a professional rather than do the job yourself.
Falls Protection Tips
Falls protection for roof maintenance includes a safety harness that’s clipped to a stable point on the roof, known as an anchor point. Guidelines such as ropes highlight the edges of the roof, so you have a visual cue of the edge of the roof. Both of these approaches will help you avoid a fall from the roof.
It’s common during a day of roofing work to get wrapped up in the project and forget where the edge lies. Keeping your roof safe does not mean placing yourself at risk. If you don’t want to go up on the roof yourself, hire a licensed roofing professional to do any work for you. If you don’t hire a licensed professional, you could be liable for medical bills if a worker sustains injuries while making roof repairs.
When you follow these tips for roofing safety, you’ll stay safe while lowering the risk of a roofing disaster that impacts your property, your tenants, or your livelihood.
Fall Protection Solutions
There are a number of great solutions for roof fall protection, all of which can be used to protect life and property. While most of these options are used on commercial applications, some are also used to meet residential roofing safety needs.
- Rooftop Guardrail – This is a free-standing guardrail system that reduces the risk of falling off of the edge of a roof. It doesn’t penetrate the roof, so there is no risk of leaks from using it.
- Roof Parapet Railing – This mounts to the roof parapet itself, and helps reduce the chances that someone will fall over the side. It provides a very sturdy barrier due to the roof mounts.
- Skylight Screens – Skylights should, in a sense, be treated like holes in the roof, and you can greatly reduce the chances of falling through them with skylight screens.
- Temporary Construction Railing – A temporary construction railing can be used in commercial and residential roofing, and protects the roofline to stop people from falling off the edge.
- Portable Safety Railing – Being able to move a safety railing around where it is needed makes a big difference in reducing fall risk, whether you are working on a commercial or residential project.
- Roof Hatch Railing – For buildings with roof access hatches, safe ingress and egress while working is vital. This product protects the hatch and also keeps people safe as they enter and exit.
- Fall Arrest Products – Lanyards, harnesses, connectors, and more can all make roofs safer. If a person using these products does happen to slip or fall, they will be caught long before they can incur serious injury.
- Engineered Horizontal Lifeline – When working at height, it is very important to be tethered in case you slip. For multiple people working on a high roof, this type of horizontal lifeline can provide great protection and reduce the chances of being harmed if a slip or fall occurs.
- Dead Weight Anchor – A dead weight anchor can be used on relatively flat roofs with a pitch of up to five degrees. They are very mobile, but once they are in place they work well to keep a person anchored to the roof so they don’t fall over the edge.
- Roof Top Walkway – Walking on a roof is risky, especially if the pitch is steep. But a walkway can provide more traction and far less risk of falling.
With the right solutions, you can make your rooftop work much safer and more effective. The reduction of risk should be a very important part of any roof work you have to complete.