Working on the roof is risky, especially if your roof has an uneven surface. The task of having to climb up a ladder several feet above the ground is perhaps the most daunting part of the process. Admittedly, not everyone is capable of doing this kind of work. One needs confidence and a good sense of balance to carry out any work on the roof. A comprehensive understanding of the equipment and their proper usage is crucial to be able to work safely and successfully.
Professionals make climbing a ladder seems like a breeze. However, the seeming simplicity of the action actually requires a lot of skill. This article will give you some guidelines that can help you ensure your safety when using a ladder to work your roof.
Use a roof ladder instead of a regular extension ladder. A roof ladder looks similar to regular ladders, only with additional safety equipment built-in specifically for roof work. It has hooks and grips on the top end that locks the ladder in place on the roof ridge. Regular ladders, on the other hand, are held only by leaning them on a wall.
A roof ladder is also designed to extend beyond the roof, increasing the height you can reach as well as the ladder's stability. It also has wheels on its top end to avoid damaging the slates or tiles of the roof.
Plant the ladder firmly on the ground. Ensure that you put your ladder on a dry, firm surface. As much as possible, choose a level patch on the ground. Use leveling devices if you need to. Kick the ladder into the ground to secure its position. Having an assistant to stabilize the bottom end can also be very helpful.
Secure the ladder on the roof surface. If you are using a roof ladder, ensure that the grips or hooks are secured and positioned correctly. If using an extension ladder, make sure that you tie the ladder securely on the roof ledge.
Ensure that the ascent angle is not too steep. A good rule of thumb to follow is to move the bottom end of the ladder one foot away from the wall per every four feet of height the ladder ascends.
Climb the ladder properly. When climbing, ensure that you are in contact with the ladder at three points all the time. Hold onto the siderails instead of the rungs as you climb. Wear a tool belt to carry your equipment so you can keep both hands firmly on the ladder.
Avoid over-reaching. Be aware of the ladder's safety-zone. Ensure that your breastbone is always within the width of the ladder. Go down and move the ladder if you need to reach an area that is past the safety zone. Do not try to move the ladder while on top or extend your body outside of this area. Attempting to do this is the most common cause of ladder accidents.
Using a ladder should neither be feared nor taken lightly. The potential for accidents is present everytime a person uses this tool. However, with calculated movements and an understanding of the guidelines above, you can ensure your safety no matter what height you climb.