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If you’re wondering how to secure yourself on a roof, then you’ve come to the right place. After weeks of research, we’ve put together this roofing safety guide including roof safety equipment recommendations, to help you choose the right products.
According to OSHA, wearing a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) is required by law if the worker is exposed to a fall of 6 feet or more.
There are three main elements needed in order to put together a proper and complete personal fall arrest system:
- Anchor Points
- Body Wear (Harness)
- Connectors (Lanyard, Roofing Ropes, Buckles, Rope-Grabs, Hooks etc.)
Workers must be provided with roof safety equipment and gear in order to do their job in a safe manner. All the workers must be trained and taught how to use the roofing safety gear and how to protect themselves from hazards.
INSTALL A ROOFING ANCHOR
Roof anchors are essential when it comes to setting up a proper roof fall protection system, ideal to use for new constructions, re-roofing or any repair projects.
A roof anchor should be installed directly into a truss, usually over the peak of the roof. They provide a secure connection point for the other safety elements of a fall protection system like ropes, lanyards, harnesses.
Do not install the anchor into sheathing alone, single trusses or guardrails. They are not strong enough to support a hard fall.
OSHA requires roof anchors to be rated at 5000 pounds per person. Make sure to double-check that before buying a new roof anchor.
In order to install the anchor on the roof, you need to drive enough nails through the sheathing into the truss or into the rafter.
Drive as many fasteners as needed – usually 16 penny nails – following the anchor’s guide pattern. Every anchor should come with instructions and guideline holes to show you where exactly should the fasteners be driven.
Make sure to use a hammer (not a nailgun) so you could feel if the nails are driven properly. To identify the trusses, you can also pound on the roof area with a hammer and listen where the sound is more solid.
Types of roof anchors:
01 Temporary Anchors: are designed to be easily reused, removed, relocated. They come with the D-Ring on top, which is visually unpleasant and really stands out from the ground.
02 Permanent Anchors: are designed to remain in one place for permanent time, being attached to the roof structure, underneath the shingles.
They are easy to install and obviously, more difficult to be removed since they’re placed under the shingles. They’re more corrosion-resistant, weather-resistant, and their discrete design won’t stand out from the street.
1. Temporary Roof Anchors
Our #1 Pick: Guardian Fall Protection 00455 Reusable Anchor
We highly recommend this temporary Guardian anchor, it’s sturdy, reliable and most importantly meets all the safety standards.
We like that it’s compatible with any roof pitch, from flat to 12/12.
Comes with fasteners.
Temporary anchor points are a perfect choice for any roofing or re-roofing project.
They are easy to install, to remove and to relocate. Reusable anchors are as efficient as permanent anchors.
But they are not designed to be very corrosion-resistant, meaning that they would be prone to rust or deteriorate if they were left on the roof permanently.
If you’re doing some repairs on an existing asphalt shingled roof, the correct way to install the anchor is underneath the shingles. You need to remove all the old nails and have a clear view of the area you’re about to install the anchor.
You have to identify the truss, visually, and also by pounding on the roof with your hammer looking to hear a solid sound.
Here’s a helpful video provided by AllSurfaceRoofing showing how to properly install and remove a temporary anchor:
When you’re done with the anchor, after removing the nails, don’t leave any holes in the truss. Fill them up with roofing cement using a caulk gun like in the video above.
2. Permanent Anchors
Top Pick: Retro-Fit Super Anchor Safety Permanent Roof Anchor
This permanent roofing anchor from Super Anchor Safety complies with OSHA and ANSI standards.
Can be used on asphalt, metal and wood roofs and comes with stainless steel fasteners.
These are anchors designed for permanent use, are more corrosion-resistant, sturdy and made to last.
Some come with one single D-Ring and can be placed on any side/place of the roof.
Others come with two D-Rings, placed on both ends and they’re designed to be installed over the roof pitch.
The design of a permanent roof anchor is usually discrete so the ring and anchor wouldn’t stand out being visible from the ground.
Some people even paint them in the same color as the roof to reduce their visibility even more.
A permanent anchor is designed to be placed under the shingles.
You have to remove the old roof shingles covering the area the anchor point will go, install it into the truss and then cover the anchor (except the D-Ring) with the shingles.
3. Standing Seam Roof Anchor
Standing seam roofs are extremely slippery and dangerous to walk on. They are also easy to get damaged.
How do you secure yourself on a standing seam roof? Using a fall protection system designed especially for this type of roofs.
WEAR A ROOF SAFETY HARNESS
Best Roofing Harness: Guardian Fall Protection Bucket
We recommend the Guardian Fall Protection System OSHA approved safety harness, that comes with the following items included:
- Reusable Heavy-Duty Anchor with Screws
- Universal Full-Body Harness with 5 Adjustments Points
- 50-Foot Lifeline
- Built-in Shock Absorbing Lanyard
- Storage Bucket
- Hook Mechanism
The kit also comes with all the necessary clutches, buckles, rope grab hooks that allow you to safely travel up and down the line. The harness comes in a universal size, fits a wide range of body types.
Comes with a reusable anchor (temporary) and with the fasteners needed to install the anchor. Can be used even on 12/12 roof pitches.
The lifeline is made from a blend of materials meant to provide maximum safety. It’s also kink-roof and moisture-resistant.
The shock-absorbing lanyard is a must for any personal fall arrest system. In case of a fall, it cushions the impact and saves you from a hard impact fall that can result in multiple injuries.
Wearing a full-body safety harness is the next essential thing when it comes to rooftop safety.
The safety harness for roofing should feel snug on your body, but not too tight so you could still move freely.
- Inspect the roofing harness for any damage
- Put on the harness and adjust the shoulder straps
- Make sure the D-Ring is upper middle part of the shoulder
- Adjust the Leg Straps
- Adjust the Chest Straps
- Final adjustment for a fit snug but still allow for a full range of movement
Make sure to inspect the webbing for scratches or defects.
How to use a safety harness on a roof | Video Explainer
1. Lanyard: Reduces the Impact Forces From a Fall
#1 Top Pick: Guardian Fall Protection Lanyard
This lanyard is an ideal high-quality safety line that will get you secured on the roof with its shock-absorbing feature.
The material is great quality, and overall it’s very lightweight so it would not slow you down.
If you fall, even if you wear a harness, you can get seriously injured from the harsh impact of the sudden stop. Luckily, there is a solution that reduces the speed and cushions the impact: the lanyard.
The lanyard is a crucial connection element attached to the D-Ring of your harness, that reduces the speed, cushions the impact and protects your back from injuries.
How does it work? In simple words, a lanyard is designed with material sewed together. In case of an impact, that stitching is taken out, decreasing the impact force and acting as shock absorption.
2. Roofing Rope Grab
#1 Top Pick: Guardian Fall Protection GRAB-R Rope Grab
This rope grab won’t allow you to move more than you allow to. It fits 5/8 inch or 5/16 inch ropes.
It’s reliable and designed to lock automatically in case of a fall.
A roofing rope grab locks onto the rope and acts as a break. It lets you adjust how much rope you need and it won’t allow you to move more than you allowed to.
Lifelines (ropes) are usually longer than needed, and you have to adjust the length of the lifeline to block you from going too far.
3. Sturdy Roofing Rope: Needs to be OSHA Compliant
#1 Top Pick: Guardian Fall Protection Vertical Lifeline Assembly
We highly recommend this lifeline assembly because it is reliable, premium quality, and resistant to abrasion and cuts.
It comes with components: shock absorber, lanyard, two double snap hooks.
The lifeline is also ideal for wet conditions, due to the poly steel material blend.
Choose a safety rope for roofing that is OSHA Compliant.
It is very important to look for a sturdy rope that can withstand the impact of a fall.
ROOF SAFETY BRACKETS AND PLANKS
Best Safety Bracket: Qualcraft 2500 Roofing Bracket
This adjustable roofing bracket by Qualcraft is the one we recommend.
It’s OSHA compliant, easy to install and easy to remove, made in USA and durable built with all steel construction.
High pitched roofs are not easy to walk on. You need slip-resistant roofing shoes and a safe, sturdy and flat area to stand on while roofing.
Roof brackets are installed on the roofs, without making any damage to the roof surface, and offers a flat area to step on.
To have a larger area to walk on, place planks on top of two roof brackets.
STURDY EXTENSION LADDER
#1 Extension Ladder: Louisville Ladder Fiberglass
This reliable ladder can hold 300 pounds and is ANSI approved, making it ideal for roofing and framing conditions.
Comes with a sturdy Maxlock system tested in extreme low-temperature conditions, and with slip-resistant rungs.
To access the roof you need a rugged yet lightweight ladder.
You have to secure the ladder correctly and around 1 meter higher than the gutter. You should also tie the ladder to the roof, to make sure it stays in place.
There are many types of ladders, make sure to check for these three things:
- It must be OSHA compliant
- Load Capacity
- Extension Length
Fiberglass ladders are great to use around electricity since they offer electric protection. They are a bit heavier, you might need another person to set it up.
Make sure to place the ladder on a flat ground. If you don’t have this option, then it’s best to use a ladder leveler wedge.
How to secure a ladder to a roof:
Special thanks to our designer Andreea Mica for the illustration.