Working on any elevated surface can be dangerous -- and roofs are no exception. Thousands of workers are injured while working on roofs each year in the United States. Whether it's a two-story or three-story roof, though, there are precautions you can take to lower your risk of injury. Here's how to stay safe when working on a roof.
Beware of Power Lines
Before climbing on top of a roof, check it for power lines. While most roofing-related injuries involve falls, some of them involve electrical hazards. Touching a nearby power line could result in a serious or potentially fatal injury. Therefore, you should inspect the roof beforehand to identify any power lines.
Choose the Right Footwear
Don't underestimate the importance of choosing the right footwear when working on a roof. If your shoes or boots provide little or no traction, you may slip and fall. Slip-and-fall accidents, of course, are particularly dangerous when they occur on a roof. Choosing footwear with proper traction will lower your risk of slip-and-fall accidents. You'll be more stable on the roof, so you'll be less likely to slip and fall.
Watch for Loose Nails
Another safety tip to follow when working on a roof is to watch for loose nails. Shingles and other roofing materials are oftentimes fastened with nails. Over time, these nails can become loose. A loose nail may work its way out of the roof. And if you step on it, you could sustain an injury.
Use a Fall Protection System
One of the most important things you can do when working on a roof is use a fall protection system. A fall protection system, of course, is a system that's designed to protect you from falling. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) typically requires them when working on a roof. A fall arrest system or line will secure you to the roof. Therefore, even if you lose your balance, you shouldn't fall off the roof.
If you use a ladder to access the roof, you should climb it carefully. Many roofing-related ladders injuries occur when workers are ascending or descending a ladder. To lower your risk of injury, climb carefully by maintaining three points of contact with the ladder at all times. In other words, both of your hands and one foot should be touching the ladder or both of your feet and one hand should be touching the ladder.