Roofing may be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Most roofers are young and full of confidence that they won’t be hurt. If they stay in the business for a while, it won’t be long before there’s been a few close calls and they begin to realize they’re not invulnerable.
There are some things that you can do to help you stay safe while installing roofing.
- The first consideration in any roofing job is safety. Safety starts on the ground, lasts all day, and then comes down with you at night. Thinking safety is a habit that has to be nurtured because it doesn’t come naturally. Focus on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. If you’re climbing a ladder, check the ladder’s legs before you start up to make sure they’re sitting on packed dirt and the whole thing doesn’t go sideways when you’re fifteen feet up in the air. When you’re walking on the roof, pay attention to where you’re stepping so you don’t trip over a bundle of shingles and go over the edge. Most roofing accidents aren’t due to faulty equipment but rather to faulty thinking.
- Use a safety harness and anchoring system to stay safe while installing roofing. Anchoring systems eventually becomes a time-waster as far as roofers are concerned unless they’ve taken a nosedive from the second story. Survivors won’t go up on a roof without one. You can invest in a commercial harness or simply come up with one yourself. However you do it, make sure that if you lose your footing, you’re attached to the roof in some manner and will stop before you tumble off. A more common practice is to nail down a few 2x4s to brace your feet on. You can have a fairly steady foothold this way but the boards won’t stop you during a free fall.
- Nail guns are notoriously dangerous. A nail can kill you or a co-worker, or put a nail through your finger before you’ve realized it. Make sure you maintain your gun per the manufacturer’s recommendations, use the right sized nails, and treat it like a loaded firearm. It’s as deadly as one.
- Goggles and a safety helmet are a good idea. Most roofers see the wisdom in wearing goggles due to a host of flying debris and uncooperative nails, but a helmet is another thing. You never know when a hammer will slip out of someone’s hand.