Proper Ladder Safety When Inspecting Your Roof
Before you grab that ladder from your garage and start climbing your roof, there are a few imperative safety tips you should be aware of. Climbing your roof may seem like an easy feat, but one misstep and you could seriously hurt yourself. According to a 2011 report published by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 43% of fatal falls in the last decade have involved ladder. For workers, 20% of fall injuries can be attributed to ladders, and for construction workers, an astounding 81% of fall injuries are from ladders. Be smart when inspecting your roof and you could save yourself from experiencing one of the most commonly reported accident.
Because ladder fatalities and injuries are so common, roofing professionals and their respective companies will require ladder safety training to prevent them. That’s right, an entire course is dedicated to how to safely use a ladder. For the average homeowner, you’ll certainly want to know how to use a ladder the right way before climbing onto your roof.
Safety Check: Your Environment and Surroundings
The first step in ladder safety is checking to see if your surroundings are safe to place the ladder for a steady climb. Don’t place the ladder in any wet or slippery spots (which means double checking the concrete, flooring, grass, or gravel you’re on), and to ensure that the ladder won’t sink into the ground, shift around, or slide. Take a cautionary test step to be certain it will hold.
The occasion may call for a need of a cleat or digging a trench to secure the ladder. Cleats will go on the bottom of the ladder and you can find these accessories at any hardware store or online. Digging a trench is an alternative if you don’t have ladder cleats and is easy to do, just requiring a few moments.
A Quick Inspection
Before climbing the ladder, give it a once-over. Make sure that the rails, rungs, and hooks are all intact, free of any damages or defects. Any signs of damage means you shouldn’t be using the ladder and it needs to go out of commission. Check the rungs of the ladder to make sure they aren’t covered in grease, oil, or anything that could cause you to slip when you climb it.
In fiberglass ladders, damages can include cracks from wear and tear. Aluminum ladders will show dents and bending if they are damaged. Wooden ladders aren’t as long-lasting, so check them out for damages and deterioration more frequently.
Placing Your Ladder
Place your ladder at an angle, one foot out for every four feet of height. Doing so will prevent the ladder from tipping backwards. If the angling of the ladder isn’t stable, you put yourself at risk for a fall, so it’s critical in basic ladder safety to follow this guideline.
Stabilize the Ladder
When you’re using a ladder to climb onto the roof, you’ll want to stabilize the top with a bar or ladder mount guard. You can also secure the ladder by tying it to anchors. This step ensures that the ladder will not fall backwards when you’re trying to climb.
Ladder Safety Tips
Follow this checklist when you must climb a ladder to your roof for inspection:
- Make sure the ladder has a secure base (watch your surroundings so the ladder won’t wobble, sink, or tip).
- Secure the top of the ladder (and the bottom if necessary).
- Your ladder should follow this ratio when set up: one foot back for every four feet of height.
- Your ladder needs to extend about 3 feet beyond the roof.
- Follow the three points of contact rule: always have three placements on the ladder—either two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand at all times.
- Face the ladder when you climb.
- If you could fall more than six feet, use safety equipment for your climb (and if possible, have someone spot you).
- Watch for obstacles like powerlines.
- Never climb and work beyond the top three rungs—it’s unsafe.
- Never carry tools in your hands while climbing the ladder. Use a toolbelt instead to optimize ladder contact.
Did you know that ladders have classifications? These classifications indicate how much load they can support in terms of weight for the person climbing it and their materials. If you’re bringing heavy equipment up to the roof with you, you’ll need a ladder that can meet this demand safely. For the average homeowner hoping to just take a peek at the roof, you can use a ladder with a light duty classification.
- Type III: ladders that fall into this classification are light duty and can support up to 200 pounds. For a typical homeowner looking to do a roof inspection, this ladder would work just fine.
- Type II: Type II ladders are medium duty and can hold up to 225 pounds. These ladders and used for contractors/handymen in need of achieving light maintenance work and mechanics.
- Type I: ladders designated as type I are heavy duty and can support 250 pounds. Type I ladders are used on construction sites and in the industrial sector.
- Type IA: these are extra heavy duty ladders that support 300 pounds and are industrial use.
- Type IAA: an even more durable ladder that can withstand 375 pounds—also for industrial use.
ANSI stickers on ladders will certify that the ladder will hold its own weight plus four times the maximum load as part of safety regulations, but always go by the indicated rated load of the ladder’s classification.
Ladder safety is very important to us we make sure that all of our employees are well trained and update on all of OSHA’s rules in regarding ladder safety.
Time for a New Roof?
Now’s the time to replace your roof with high-performance shingles that are durable, resistant to strong weather conditions, and eye appealing. Most of the time, asphalt shingles are drastically better than slate, solar, shake, wood, and tile. All the benefits from great energy efficiency to great exterior protection from extreme weather conditions. Speak to a specialist and get a free quote online today.