There is always a risk of falling when tending to your roof, but fortunately, there are many ways you can protect yourself when working on one of your home’s most important structures. From roofing harnesses to ear plugs, proper safety equipment is just as important as a ladder and toolbox when it comes to roof repairs. Interstate Roofing recommends the following pieces of safety equipment whenever you climb up that ladder.
1. Roofing Harness
A safety harness is an essential piece of equipment you should use while attempting any roofing project. Roofing harnesses are convenient, safe, easy to use, and will help protect you from accidents that could result in injury or even death. Whenever you’re working from heights, it’s important to ensure the roof and adjoining structures can support your weight.
Safety harness systems typically consist of a body harness, roof anchor, rope, and lanyard. The body harness is a strap system that is worn and attached to the lanyard (a shock-absorbing system that helps reduce the severity of a fall). Before putting on the harness, you should visually inspect the strapping to verify there are no tears or damage. A properly fitted harness will also help prevent injuries that could arise from loose straps. It’s important to ensure the harness fits snuggly but does not restrict movement.
An anchor point is installed on the roof to the proper structure with nails or screws (see manufacturers’ instructions). Once secured, the rope and lanyard are connected to it and then to the safety harness. It’s important to keep little slack between the anchor point and the harness to minimize the impact of a potential fall.
Many manufacturers offer full systems that are designed to work together (harness, lanyard, anchor point, etc.). It is recommended to utilize components designed as a system to ensure everything works as intended.
2. Heavy-Duty Gloves
Heavy-duty gloves (made from leather or canvas) will protect your hands from cuts and abrasions that may occur from nails, screws, and other construction materials. Heavy-duty gloves also provide the benefit of keeping your hands warm during the colder months. Make sure the gloves you choose fit well and are comfortable to wear. Poorly fitting gloves can limit mobility or cause blisters, so be sure to pick a pair of gloves that are the proper size.
3. Safety Glasses
Safety glasses come in a variety of shapes and sizes (some costing as little as a few dollars). A pair of comfortable and well-fitting safety glasses will not only stay on your face as you work on top of the roof, but they will protect your eyes from debris, dust, and other irritants.
4. Hard Hat
Obviously, the primary purpose of a hard hat is to protect your head. A hard hat consists of a rigid shell that helps protect and deflect falling objects. A suspension system beneath the shell serves as a shock absorber to lessen the impact to the head. A hard hat not only protects you from falling objects while on the ground, but it can also protect your head during a fall. Hard hat headbands, chin straps, and nape straps should be adjusted properly to keep it from falling off your head. In addition, proper adjustment allows for a more comfortable fit.
Hard hat manufacturers typically recommend replacing hard hats every five years. If the hard hat is exposed to high temperatures, sunlight, chemicals, and so forth, manufacturers recommend replacement after two years.
5. Steel-Toe Boots
Steel-toe boots are reinforced around the toe of the shoe with steel or other strong metals. These boots are designed to withstand impact from heavy objects and prevent injury to your feet. Steel-toe boots help prevent injuries from falling objects as well as injuries due to falls, cuts, or lacerations. In addition to the safety features, steel-toe boots can improve comfort during long periods of time on your feet and reduce the likelihood of blisters or aches. They are much more durable and longer lasting than standard boots. That said, if you’re working on a steep slope roof, a more flexible shoe may be a better option.
There are many different pieces of roofing equipment (drills, saws, roof cutters, pneumatic tools, etc.) that can produce noise loud enough to be harmful to your hearing and possibly cause temporary or permanent hearing loss. Earplugs and earmuffs are designed to protect your hearing and come in a variety of shapes and designs.
Ear plugs (disposable or reusable) are inserted into the ear and block noise from going into the ear canal. Ear plugs are either molded or made from a foam material capable of taking shape within the ear canal.
Earmuffs are soft, padded ear cushions enclosed by hard cups connected with a headband. Much like earplugs, the materials used are capable of minimizing noise levels to acceptable ranges beneath 85 to 90 decibels. As a reference, normal breathing registers at 10 decibels whereas a rocket liftoff comes in at 170 decibels. When choosing earplugs or earmuffs, it’s important to make sure you are selecting the appropriate Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) for the work you will be performing. All types of ear protection indicate the product’s NRR on the outside packaging.
7. Proper Clothing
Long-sleeve shirts and thick pants add further protection from scrapes, cuts, and bruises. It’s important to make sure the pants you wear are made of thick material but also breathable and comfortable. Performance shirts are designed to keep you dry and cool in hot weather and will provide added comfort while you are at work. Knee pads are also a good idea to give your knees added protection when bending or kneeling on the roof.
Wearing the appropriate safety equipment while roofing is essential for your well-being. Before attempting any work from heights, be sure to double-check all safety equipment for damage or excessive wear. Taking the time up front to make sure everything is in order will help save you from any injuries later. If you’d prefer to leave the dangerous work to the roofing professionals, please contact us at Interstate Roofing.