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Thread: Roof Safety

  1. #1
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    Default Roof Safety

    Do any of you have a roof safety procedure?

    I am trying to put one together and all I can find is geared towards contractors and is geared towards a longer job- barricades, fall restraints, etc. I can't find a procedure that would be practical for inspection work.

    Flat roofs are not a problem - keep 6' or more away from the edge, but that won't work for sloped roofs.

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  2. #2
    Richard Pultar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Try to always get the ladder three rungs past the roof edge.
    Stay off a wet roof
    I'd go to a roofing supply house they have the details for OSHA regs.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Since the time we spend on roofs during inspections is a fraction of the time a professional roofer or chimney person will be up there doing work, I don't know how much you'll find that is geared specifically for HIs.

    Here are my safety procedures:

    - a good pair of shoes with a soft rubber sole
    - no roofs with ice or snow or ones that get rained on during freezing temps
    - stable base for ladder (no wet deck)
    - set the ladder up at about a 70 degree angle
    - never forget where you are on the roof
    - if you are in doubt as whether or not is safe to walk to the roof due to pitch, don't
    - when walking up or down a pitched roof surface, try to always position a roof penetration like a plumbing vent beneath you, just to have something to grab at if something goes wrong


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by David Wood View Post
    I am trying to put one together ...
    From whom?

    Homeowners?

    HIs?

    Flat roofs are not a problem - keep 6' or more away from the edge, but that won't work for sloped roofs.
    If for HIs, they really, really *need* to walk that perimeter.

    If for homeowners, I would not write up *anything* which could be considered as "encouraging" the homeowner to get up on the roof or to think it is safe to do so.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    The roof safety procedure is for our inspectors.

    The letter of the law here is to tie off or erect barricades, but that is not practical for an inspection that is likely to take only 20 minutes. The Ministry of Labour agrees, but of course will not suggest anything other than following the letter of the law. I understand that we used to have an exemption for inspection work, but it has been removed.

    So unless there is some piece of equipment out there that can be set up very quickly, we need to come up with a procedure to minimize our risk.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by David Wood View Post
    The roof safety procedure is for our inspectors.

    The letter of the law here is to tie off or erect barricades, but that is not practical for an inspection that is likely to take only 20 minutes. The Ministry of Labour agrees, but of course will not suggest anything other than following the letter of the law. I understand that we used to have an exemption for inspection work, but it has been removed.

    So unless there is some piece of equipment out there that can be set up very quickly, we need to come up with a procedure to minimize our risk.
    The only way to minimize your risk would be to follow the law, in the US, that would be OSHA. Follow their requirements and, if something happens, you have some type of defensive position you can take. *Don't follow those requirements* and you are at the mercy of the injured parties attorneys.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  7. #7
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    We could try Abstinence. Just stay off the roof! But then we would not be inspecting the roof. so we just understand that at some point in time something just may happen. Its is for the most part getting off and back on the ladder is where most problems will happen. one other area is not checking the attic first. You may have the edge of the roof sheathing
    not on the rafter or A broken rafter or fungus damage to the roof sheathing materials... you just can not see what you are walking on
    without checking the attic first. Known you limits. don't take any chances... take it from some one that went down 25 feet.
    It hurts a lot. I was 18 at the time. put me out of work for around a year. Still think about that from time to time.
    what was the song Once Bitten Twice Shy.

    As Union commercial carpenter I have seen some crap over the years that guys would do on the job most were the riggers with the cranes.
    Some crazy dudes... It was the heights that got me out of construction and into inspecting... I like the guy with the white hat and clip board.

    known your limits...

    Best

    Ron


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    I don't think guidelines for roofers apply . It's probably a good idea to tie off if you can . I never have but that doesn't mean anything.I can't figure out how you would do it on a finished roof.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Bibler View Post
    one other area is not checking the attic first.

    without checking the attic first.

    Ron,

    All my years in construction and then 17 years doing home inspections, followed by several years of code inspections, and *not once* did I do the attic first.

    I always did the roof first. It is no different than doing areas of the roof which you cannot see when doing the attic first - you have to become sensitive about where you are stepping and whether or not that step is solid. There have been may times when walking around the edge of a flat roof (not visible from inside the attic anyway) where I 'felt' a soft spot as I put my foot down, reversed my movement, and stepped backward.

    The danger with walking on roofs is not 'not checking the attic first', it is 'not paying attention to what you are doing' when up on the roof.

    In all that time I only stepped through one rotted area, back when I was contracting, my client, the homeowner, wanted me to show them the soft area, so he went up on the roof with me, I took him over to the soft area, then I stepped around the soft area, mis-judging its width, ending up with me stepping through. *I* *KNEW* it was there, my purpose at that exact time was to show him it was there, yet, ... I goofed ... and stepped through it. I was paying attention to him, not where I was stepping.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    If I need safety equipment to walk a roof either because it's that steep, wet or deteriorated ... then I am not walking it. There's nothing I'll see that I can't see with my binoculars or from the top of the ladder.
    That being said ... I do have a rope and safety harness that I use if necessary. Essentially I either lasso the rope around the chimney at the peak or throw the rope over from the top of the ladder and tie off to a fence or tree. Insane but it works if absolutely necessary.
    Beyond that ... stay low, walk near/to/from roof penetrations, along sides of valleys and hips
    As far as a hand out, I agree with Jerry only some OSHA type document and a hold harmless of some type drawn up by counsel.
    Good luck

    www.aic-chicago.com
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    If I do have a rope and safety harness that I use if necessary. ... or throw the rope over from the top of the ladder and tie off to a fence or tree. Insane ...
    I thought I was the only one who did insane things like that!

    (Kidding, many of us have done things like that.)

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Yep Jerry there are always areas you cant see. But there are a lot of areas you can see and lower the chance of stepping into something. But if you step on a bad area then its to late the damage is done. either you just put a hole in the roof and now the roofer has a good idea what to fix. or you just cut the crap out of your leg. or hit dead center where it counts.

    I check the attic first if I'm going on the roof. but heck thats me.

    I was doing a termite inspection on a house a few years back as the HI Was walking out on the roof of the patio cover/room conversion and then in a flash he was inside the patio stepped through the roof. Now if he would have look inside the room he would have saw that the ceiling was all water damage/fungus damage and that water was on the floor of the room. He did not get hurt to bad. I was glad to see that.

    Check you attic first... just a smart thing to do...

    Best

    Ron


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    You might try a hook ladder, I have used it with great success, granted I don't ues it all the time but certainly on steeper slopes. It should be an acceptable "Procedure" as you would be working off a ladder. I'd run it by an OSHA rep before implementing it. If it is not accepted ask them for a viable option. It would eliminate falling through soft spots as well.

    Up here in Canada, our WCB (Workmans Compensation Board) has a "Procedure" for flat roofs, for estimating and inspection purposes-Limit exposure to unguarded edge, and limit time on the roof to under 15 minutes. A "fall protection plan" must be filled out to use this procedure. For sloped roofs however no such procedure exists.


    Frank Suchodolski, High Profile Roof Care Inc.

    Last edited by Frank Suchodolski; 08-25-2010 at 09:20 AM.

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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    When I was getting my busines up and running, I was making calls for E&O insurance. One guy I talked to told me I can inspect a roof just as well from the ground with a pair of binoculars as I can by walking it and that walking a roof would result in damaged roofs. He wasn't looking at it from a safety standpoint. He was all about claims and liability which is strange because if I had followed his poor advice, I don't know how many roofs I would have had to buy for people because of missed defects.


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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    One thing to remember!

    If do happen to fall.....remember to jump up right before you hit the ground! It will help break your fall!


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Carlisle View Post
    One thing to remember!

    If do happen to fall.....remember to jump up right before you hit the ground! It will help break your fall!
    The old falling elevator trick!


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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Just wanted to put in a plug for these - I've been using them for two years now, and in combination with a good tie-off to a gutter IMO roof entry and exit is much safer than if you are stepping around the ladder.... also, they add a very useful 2.5' of extra reach.




    Guardian #10800 Safe-T Ladder Extension System

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by David Wood View Post
    I am trying to put one together and all I can find is geared towards contractors and is geared towards a longer job- barricades, fall restraints, etc. I can't find a procedure that would be practical for inspection work.
    Who and how do you put up a barricade, fall restraints, etc. without getting on the roof first without the equipment in place?

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  19. #19
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Just wanted to put in a plug for these - I've been using them for two years now, and in combination with a good tie-off to a gutter IMO roof entry and exit is much safer than if you are stepping around the ladder.... also, they add a very useful 2.5' of extra reach.




    Guardian #10800 Safe-T Ladder Extension System
    Michael Thanks for posting that. i want it...

    Best

    Ron


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Just wanted to put in a plug for these - I've been using them for two years now, and in combination with a good tie-off to a gutter IMO roof entry and exit is much safer than if you are stepping around the ladder.... also, they add a very useful 2.5' of extra reach.




    Guardian #10800 Safe-T Ladder Extension System
    Interesting. Here's a lower price, I think.
    Guardian Ladder Rail Extension

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Just wanted to put in a plug for these - I've been using them for two years now, and in combination with a good tie-off to a gutter IMO roof entry and exit is much safer than if you are stepping around the ladder.... also, they add a very useful 2.5' of extra reach.
    Michael - You have to extend the ladder some to put it on right? Or is it designed so that it can stay on when the ladder is fully retracted?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Michael - You have to extend the ladder some to put it on right? Or is it designed so that it can stay on when the ladder is fully retracted?
    You need to extend the ladder two rungs - I have the extensions and rails marked with magic marker so it's always easy to see what goes where.

    BTW, the extensions are aluminum, and surprisingly light. They go on and off in around 30 sec each.

    I can handle the extra weight with no problem on a fully extended 24' ladder (I'm a pretty strong 61, and 5 '8") but have to be very careful when using them on the 32', even a few extra pounds at that distance makes quite a difference.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 12-12-2008 at 05:46 AM.
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    You need to extend the ladder two rungs - I have the extensions and rails marked with magic marker so it's always easy to see what goes where...
    Thanks. I wrote to the manufacturer and here's the confusing response I got:
    "...you can fully retract the ladder and have the extension still attached. It must be taken off before that happens."

    Say what?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Just wanted to chime in on the roof thing...for proper ladder placement, you should, when standing on the bottom rung, be able to stretch your arms fully forward and grip the rung in front of you. That's approx. 70 -75 degrees. Also, the top two rungs, preferably three, should be above the roof to allow easy on and off. The "hook' ladder, if it's a double beam, is known as a "roof ladder," and has retractable spring loaded hooks which are deployed before the ladder is on the roof. These hooks go over the roof ridge and allow a person to walk inside the beams with added security on high pitch roofs. The single beam ladder with a hook built into the beam in the center, is known as a "pompier" ladder. They are much lighter than the roof ladders, but not as safe.
    Personally, if it's too steep, I don't go, and I'm not required to. Like the man said, I can see the entire roof from the eave or ground with a good pair of binos. As the old saying goes, "If you don't know, don't go..." Be safe all and have a merry Christmas and a profitable 2009.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
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  26. #26
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    I learned the "hard way" always check the attic before walking a roof. What I do now is inspect the roof from the ladder and/or use binoculars. SAFETY FIRST.


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Interesting. Here's a lower price, I think.
    Guardian Ladder Rail Extension

    Man you folks must have some money. 200 for the extensions, WOW, 2 something for the ladder stabilizers, WOW. I think I will be a little carefull and step around to my ladder.


  28. #28

    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Never walk backwords on roofs!

    Hope this helps

    Rolland Pruner


  29. #29
    Eric Russell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Michael's been lookin into the Pompier thing....good job! I'm a firefighter, and all the different types of ladders are basic training in rookie school.

    I've got another for ya...the ladder, in the non-deployed position, has both rails touching each other with foldable feet at one end. When this ladder is deployed, the rails spread apart and reveal hinged rungs. Can you name this ladder????


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Safety first! Binos from the ground or eave is acceptable in almost every case. The biggest problem is flashings and/or crickets at chimneys or hidden valleys. Even if it is possible to walk a lower slope roof, I usually don't if the temeprature is above 55 degrees. The downward pressure on the shingles on a torn or damaged tab can cause it to give way....not a good feeling to have that shingle scoot out from under you. Besides IMHO, I think that the downward pressure also elongates the nail penetration through the shingle weakening the clinching action of the nail. In our area, strong westerly winds will remove any shingles that vibrate. If nothing else my rationale keeps me off alot of roofs and alive and well. My experience is that leaky roofs are best detected from the underside anyway.....I note my method of observation in the report and recommend that should a comprehensive evaluation be desired, call the roofer.


  31. #31
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    Man you folks must have some money. 200 for the extensions, WOW, 2 something for the ladder stabilizers, WOW. I think I will be a little carefull and step around to my ladder.
    I probably have five or six hundred bucks in ladder accessories: a really nice set of adjustable extensions for the feet that fit on mounting brackets which I have installed all my ladders, three diferent standoffs, the step through extension rails above, a variety of devices to tie off the ladder to the gutters and to prevent the ladder from kicking out at the base - I even made a little warning sign that replaces the red flag I used to tie to the ladders and clips into the mounting for the foot extensions when the ladders are on the vehicle!

    IMO, It's some of the best money I've ever spent, I not only use the ladders for my HI work but also around the house and at my rental properties, and I'm much more comfortable knowing that every time I go up a ladder I've taken every reasonable step I can to improve my odds of avoiding injury - just about any trip I have to take to the emergency room is going to cost me far more than that in medical costs and lost productivity ... assuming I survive, that is.

    I've also noticed, BTW, that having the right equipment and taking care in using it when accessing a roof impresses a lot of clients - it's one of the things I can do to look more "professional" - and clients often comment on my ladder accessories and ask were they can buy them.

    YMMV.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 12-13-2008 at 12:06 PM.
    Michael Thomas
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  32. #32
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    Man you folks must have some money. 200 for the extensions, WOW, 2 something for the ladder stabilizers, WOW. I think I will be a little carefull and step around to my ladder.
    I wonder how many people, while lying on the ground in agony, have said to themselves "At least I saved $200 by not buying that ladder safety accessory!"

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  33. #33
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Geez
    Trust me folks. I have been in and around construction all my life. I know all about safety. I was just commenting on the 200 for the extensions.

    No. I am not taking any trips to the hospital. I know my limits and am aware of my safety all the time. I was a daredevil all my younger life and have the scared bones, scars and bad back to show some of the stupid things I have done. In saying that. I have never (other than minor gashes, splinters and maybe burns) have never injured myself on the job. Adding to that on another note. I wore my body out pretty well.

    Ladder accessories or not I am still not going 2 stories up on a 10/12 roof. As a matter of fact I practically never get on 2 story roofs. Thats why they make good binoculars and good cameras and not it in the report how you inspected the roof.


  34. #34
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Here are my roof safety practices. Some have already been stated, but this is what I do.

    1.) Determine the easiest place to put up the ladder during the exterior inspection. Usually near a valley or an area that isn't so steep.
    2.) Stay away from overhead service drops.
    3.) Try to put the ladder so that it straddles the spacer in the gutters. This helps to keep from crushing the gutters.
    4.) Put the ladder with at least 3 rungs above the roof line.
    5.) Adjust the ladder so that I can reach the rung with my fingertips while standing on the ground (70 degree angle or so). Keep the legs as level as possible.
    6.) Change the pads on my Cougar Paws boots so that I have dry/fresh pads before getting on the roof.
    7.) Carry a bungee cord with me and tie the ladder to the gutter before I get completely on the roof.
    8.) NEVER WALK BACKWARDS! No one intentionally walks off of roofs.
    9.) There is nothing wrong with doing the "crab walk" or scooting on all fours if it makes you feel safer. I do this on really steep fields between valleys or hips.
    10.) Straddle the hip/ridge as necessary to climb descend steep areas.
    11.) Get off the roof when it starts raining.
    12.) Just because I can comfortably get to some areas does not mean that you can too! If you feel afraid or uncomfortable then disclaim the area as too high/steep/wet. No one will fault you for that.
    13.) Always go on the roof if I can.

    Here is an image of a typical roof that I climb.

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    Last edited by J. Brandon Roberts; 12-14-2008 at 03:43 PM. Reason: Add image

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    I suggest calling OSHA, believe it or not they are not your enemy. They want you to be safe and no they won't come out and hunt you down if you call.
    Hmmm there has been someone tailing me latley.......

    Mike Schulz License 393
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  36. #36
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by J. Brandon Roberts View Post
    3.) Try to put the ladder so that it straddles the spacer in the gutters. This helps to keep from crushing the gutters.
    .

    I've found that doing that, straddling the supports, leads to crushing the gutters, so what I did was always make sure that my ladder had one side rail "directly on" one support. That way, the gutter did not support any weight from that side rail, the support carried it all. Now only half the weight of the ladder was on the gutter from the other side rail.

    4.) Put the ladder with at least 3 rungs above the roof line.
    .

    I always put my ladder just above the roof, so it was secure, but so that I could walk up and over the ladder, like Michaels side handrails allow for, *I* *never* liked "walking around the ladder" to get on or off it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  37. #37
    Frank Suchodolski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Have you tried using stand-offs for your ladders? These insert into the ladder rungs so you can still have the proper height above the roof line. They keep your ladder off the gutter entirely and stabilize it. Once you've used them you'll feel alot safer getting on and off your ladder. The rule for ladder set-up is 1 foot out for every 4 feet up and if you have the "D" shaped rungs (the best in my opinion) just make sure the flat is parallel with the ground


    By the way, stepping around the ladder at roof level while holding on to it is a lot safer than climbing over the top of your ladder, no matter how "safe" it feels.

    Home Depot $27.99


  38. #38
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Russell View Post
    Michael's been lookin into the Pompier thing....good job! I'm a firefighter, and all the different types of ladders are basic training in rookie school.

    I've got another for ya...the ladder, in the non-deployed position, has both rails touching each other with foldable feet at one end. When this ladder is deployed, the rails spread apart and reveal hinged rungs. Can you name this ladder????
    You're talking about an "Attic Ladder"


  39. #39
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    I believe OSHA requires three rungs above the roof line and tied off.

    Mike Schulz License 393
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  40. #40
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    Default Re: Roof Safety

    Donít forget the one that no one tells you about, never wear any type of hood or other head gear that blocks your peripheral vision when on a roof. I tried to side step off a roof with a hood on one day, since then I will only wear a hat if it is a cold day.

    I also agree with looking in the attic first if possible, within about a month of each other I had two houses that had extensive fire damage that was not properly repaired and about went through both of these. Remember the art of making your self as flat and big as you can, you look real good hitting the deck and doing a full eagle spread .

    Michael P.


  41. #41
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    Russel Ray Guest

    Default Re: Roof Safety

    A couple of decades ago when I was a roofing contractor along the Gulf Coast in South Texas, we never went on a roof without checking the attic first. It saved us many a hospital bill from "South-of-the-Border" workers replacing an old vent or chimney hole after those were removed with a thin sheet of Reynolds aluminum foil and then putting on the new roof covering. We would have gone right through those types of repairs. Now, as a property consultant and as a home inspector from 2001-2007, I don't walk on roofs, mainly because my life insurance and AD&D insurance doesn't allow me to unless I have a roofing contractor's license for the State of California. Now if we can get some home inspector licensing in this state, thing might change.

    The funny thing, though, is that my insurance doesn't seem to have a serious issue with me putting a step ladder on top of a 12-foot A frame ladder placed on top of my car so that I can climb into that tree there and monkey over to the roof so that I can get a good looksee behind the chimney. They have stated that they would "probably" pay claims under that scenario, but not if I'm up there walking on the roof on someone else's property. Go figure.


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