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, showing what you need in order to work safely on the roof.
According to OSHA, wearing a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) is required if the worker is exposed to a fall of 6 feet or more.
There are three elements needed to put together a proper and complete personal fall arrest system:
- Anchor Points
- Body Wear (Harness)
- Connectors (Lanyard, Ropes, Buckles, Rope-Grabs, Hooks etc.)
Workers must be provided with 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 safety gear and how to protect themselves from hazards.
1INSTALL A ROOF ANCHOR
Roof anchors are essential when it comes to setting up a proper 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.
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 secure 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 a 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.
→ Temporary Anchors
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.
♦ Peakworks Reusable Anchor (link to Amazon) is one of our favorites, does its job just right and it doesn’t come with a spicy price tag.
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 we found on Youtube 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.
→ Permanent Anchors
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.
Working on a Standing Seam Roof?
How do you secure yourself on a standing seam roof? Using a fall protection system made mainly for these type of roofs.
♦ This Fall Protection Distributors Standing Seam Anchor (link to Amazon) as one of the best anchors for standing seam roofs. It comes with a patented universal fit, that doesn’t penetrate the panels. It’s very lightweight and the most important thing: it’s OSHA approved with 5000 lbs rating.
2WEAR A SAFETY HARNESS
Wearing a full-body safety harness is the next essential thing when it comes to rooftop safety.
The harness should feel snug on your body, but not too tight so you could still move freely.
- Inspect the 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
A harness comes with webbing, buckles, D-Rings. Make sure to inspect the webbing for scratches or defects.
♦ We recommend the Guardian Fall Protection Kit Bucket (link to Amazon) 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, fitting 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 the 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.
Lanyard: Reduces the Impact Forces From a Fall
♦ Guardian Fall Protection Lanyard (link to Amazon) is our recommendation for lanyards and its one of the most popular on the market.
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 the material sewed together. In case of an impact, that stitching is taken out, decreasing the impact force and acting like a shock absorption.
Rope Grab: 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.
Sturdy Rope: Needs to be OSHA Compliant
It is very important to look for a sturdy rope that can withstand the impact of a fall.
♦ We recommend this Peakworks Rope (link to Amazon), it’s OSHA compliant, and available in a wide variety of lengths from 25ft to 200ft. The great thing about it is that is has a breaking strength of 6000 lbs.
4ROOF BRACKETS AND PLANKS
High pitched roofs are not easy to walk on. You need slip-resistant shoes (eg. hiking 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.
♦ Qualcraft 2500 Adjustable Roofing Bracket (link to Amazon) is the one we recommend, it’s OSHA compliant, easy to install and to remove, made in USA and durable made from all steel.
To have a larger area to walk on, place planks on top of two roof brackets.
5STURDY EXTENSION 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
How to set up a ladder to safely access the roof:
There are also fiberglass ladders, those are great to use around electricity since they offer electric protection. They are heavier, you might need another person to set it up.
Special thanks to our designer Andreea Mica for the illustration.