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What Is a Toe Board & How Else Do Roofers Stay Safe?

Safety is key in any construction job and few workers in the residential housing business understand this better than roofers. Since they’re working high atop a part of the home not really designed for people to stand on, they must find creative ways to protect themselves from injury without damaging the home.

One of the ways this is done is through the use of a toe board, a simple but effective method to ensure a roofer’s safety. There are a number of other methods roofers can use to stay safe as well. These will vary depending on the type of roof and the materials and tools that the roofer will be using.

Here are some of the precautions we take to ensure our team remains safe no matter how small or large the roof we are working to repair or replace:

Toe Board

If your home has a standard gable roof shape—the inverted “V” that most people picture when they imagine a house—then it’s designed to allow rain to roll off and protect you from the elements.

It’s not, however, designed to be stood upon.

When working, however, roofers must have the freedom to move around on your roof, whether it’s to nail on shingles, repair damage, or perform diagnostic work. One of the ways we move around on this type of roof without fear of falling is through use of a toe board.

The roofer simply nails a long wooden board—usually a standard 2×4—and uses it to create a walkway. The toe board method is commonly used by most roofing contractors for safety and staging purposes.

Although toe boards involve driving nails into the roof of your home, they will not do any damage unless they are not properly removed. When researching a roofing company, ensure that if they use a toe board, they have an appropriate removal technique so that you are not surprised by leaks down the road.

Roof Brackets

Similar to a toe board, roof brackets allow the roofer to create a scaffold of whatever size is needed on the roof. Also known as “roof jacks”, roof brackets are metal devices across which wooden boards are placed to create safe areas for workers to stand.

Like a toe board, its use involves driving nails or screws into the roof itself, and so it’s important that it’s properly installed so that it does not become loose. It’s also necessary to remove it correctly to prevent any damage to the roof.

Safety Harnesses

The safety harness is another tool in the roofer’s arsenal designed to prevent injuries. As you might expect, slips and falls are the most common cause of injuries and deaths during roofing. Usually, these happen to amateurs attempting a DIY project or contractors who do not furnish the proper safety equipment for their employees.

Especially on very steep roofs, a toe board may not be enough to keep the roofer safe. With a harness that is clipped into a sturdy fixed point, roofers will have an added level of security should they lose their footing. In many states, safety harnesses are required by law if the roof is more than 10 feet high.

Roofing Ladders

Ladders are another essential tool for roofing jobs, but it’s critical that your roofer arrives at the job site with the right one. If a ladder is too short, it will be at risk of slipping off when it’s leaned against the roof.

The ladder should also be fastened to the roof; this will add a layer of security to prevent it from toppling over. Roofing ladders are designed specifically for working on your roof. They are essentially the same as any other extension ladder, but they can be securely attached to the slope of your roof to allow roofers to climb up and down with ease. A roofing ladder should never be attached at an angle of more than 75 degrees.

Proper Training

Of course, safety is much more than just equipment. When you’re researching a roofing company and asking about its safety policies you’ll want to ensure their employees are properly trained to handle any roof environment.

They’ll need to be constantly working to familiarize themselves with every tool they might use on the job; they should also have regular safety meetings and inspections.

It’s important that every employee receives safety training as soon as they are hired and that everyone is trained to handle any number of injuries or emergencies that could occur. CPR and First Aid training are a must, as is a process to investigate any accidents or incidents.

You’ll want to research the experience level of your roofing company as well. Ideally, you’ll find a roofing company, like Interstate Roofing, that has been in the business for years and employs only roofers who confidently know what they’re doing.

Working on Your Roof

A structurally sound roof might just be the most important part of your home. It protects you from the rain, as well as sleet, hail, and snow. During the summer it keeps you protected from the sweltering heat. If your roof begins to show signs of damage or decay, it must be fixed immediately. If not, water can leak in and cause devastating damage to your home and belongings.

In worst case scenarios, roofs can even collapse and cause catastrophic damage to the home and threaten the safety of the people inside it. That’s why it is absolutely critical to keep your roof in good shape; you can’t cut corners when your family, home, and property are at stake. You will need to invest in the services of a good roofing company like Interstate Roofing.

A reputable business won’t just do an amazing job fixing up your roof, it’ll also commit to the safety of its workers. Before you sign a contract with any company, you should research whether they make use of a toe board and what other safety practices they employ.