Safety Tips for Working on Old Roofs!

Working on roofs is a dangerous job since it involves a significant risk of falling. With old roofs, the risk is several times more serious. The ridge and trusses may have already aged to a point where they are too weak to bear any kind of load, making it a very dangerous place to work. Keep in mind that it is still best to place these kinds of jobs in the hands of a professional roofer. If a repair is really necessary and professional help is not available, the following are some important safety tips to follow.

  • Proper Attire – Proper attire is important when working on an old roof. A hard hat to protect a worker’s head from falling debris and rubber-soled shoes to prevent sipping when walking on steep slopes should be worn. Gloves should also be worn for handling broken shingles.
  • Equip Lightly – A worker should be as light weight as possible so as not to put too much strain on weakened support structures. Working with too much weight could potentially cause the roof to collapse. Only the tools that are necessary for the job should be carried and a worker’s body weight should be considered as well before beginning the job. A worker should never be heavier than what the structure is capable of supporting.
  • Reliable Equipment – Safety greatly depends on the equipment that is being used and any such as ladders, safety lines, or scaffolding should be inspected and tested. Lightweight aluminum equipment should be used to reduce the weight applied to the roof’s support structure. When using apparatus such as ladders and scaffolding, be sure to wear rubber-soled shoes to avoid slipping when at a steep angle. Determine the weight and reach capacity of the equipment before using to ensure that it is appropriate for the job.
  • Support Structures – Before climbing onto the structure, the most important step is to assess the condition of the support structures such as the rafters and the trusses. Old buildings will likely have weak supports that may no longer be able to carry a worker’s weight. In such cases, some type of reinforcement should be installed first before making the climb. If the damage is too extensive and the supports are no longer safe to handle weight, then the job should definitely be left to a professional roofer as the savings from the repair would offset the cost of any medical bills if an accident were to occur.
  • Planks – When climbing, always use a plank or plywood as a platform to equally distribute the weight on the shingles. This will prevent weight from being concentrated in one small spot and reduce the risk of falling in case the roof has already become very weak. This will also prevent further damage to the structure itself.
  • Safety Harness – A very important type of safety equipment that will protect a worker is a safety harness. This harness should be attached to the worker at all times while on the roof performing the repair. The safety harness will stop a fall and prevent serious injury.

Whenever possible, climbing onto an older housetop to make any kind of repairs should be left to professionals, as they are well-equipped and trained for this type of job. These safety tips for working on old roofs should only be used if professional help is not immediately available and immediate action is required. Be careful!