Talking to your customers about roof safety

Hey guys, so i plan on getting into roof cleaning soon. My biggest consern for my self, my team and my customers is safety. Now the best way to guarantee safety while on the roof is to make sure we are tied off. As we all know most roofs if not all of them don’t have anywhere to tie off. So my plan was to equip each crew with a “roofing bag” which would include some tools, some roofing caulk, harnesse’s and the temporary roof anchors that Werner sells. Which if you not familiar with this product it’s a temporary anchor that you nail or screw onto the peak of the roof. My question is how do you tell you customers that your going to wash there roof but first I need to drill or nail holes into your roof? I feel like there are some customers that will understand and be ok with the idea of someone who isn’t a roofer drilling and patching holes in their roof ,but I feel the vast majority of them would be hesitant to allow me or one of my guys to make holes in the roof. Now saying this I also don’t want to not tell my customers and have them find out by themselves, as this isn’t an ideal situation either. So what do you guys do to combat this problem ? How do you still stay safe without turning off customers?

Depends on what your local laws are . In states like mine only licensed roofer can put a nail in the roof your area may be different. Personally I would never put anchors on a customers home . I’ve had roofers put them on larger buildings before though . My policy has always been if it’s to steep to walk. Anything above a 8/12 pitch or more than two stories at the gutter then they need to pay for a lift or find another company.

In a recent post, somebody said he ties off to a 3 foot long pipe and drops it down inside a vent pipe. I never tried it. I wouldn’t use it for rappelling, but for a safety measure that you’ll hopefully never need, it’s probably good enough. A safety device only works if you use it, so a super-easy system that is a little hackish might wind up keeping you safer in the long run.

If you do make holes, consider adding some aluminum flashing to your roofing bag. Slip that under the shingle and glue it in with some Karnak. That’s easy. And it’s a much more professional repair than just slapping some caulk on.

A lot of guys just shoot from a ladder and that seems to work too. That sidesteps the whole problem.

Sell them on putting permanant anchors and do it right. Charge $50 each for them. plenty of info online on how to install.

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I drop 3ft aluminum pipes down vents. But I don’t consider it much of a safety thing. I do it because our contract requires us to be tethered to the roof with a harness. And that satisfies them.


Seriously unless you are trained how to use and install these different anchors, you might want to steer clear of any type of installation as once you install roof anchors you are held liable for any falls that are incurred by any trade who uses them.
You will surely need professional indemnity insurance to begin with.

Do you know which type of system you intend to use, fall prevention/restraint or fall arrest?

Do you know the differences?
Nails in plywood would never hold a fall arrest, I’d be surprised if they held out for fall restraint.

If you have not been trained to do so any time you tie yourself off you give your self a false sense of security, how is that any different from random joe with a $99 PW doing $99 jobs, messing up houses?

Unfortunately unlike learning how to be a PW this shouldn’t be just done though reading a forum as you should be properly taught to the relevant safety standards as If you may only make that one mistake that could be fatal to yourself or someone you employ.

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I put these on my roof.

I pulled back the ridge cap and nailed them right into the rafters with 4 nails on each side. With 4 opposing nails on each side they aren’t going anywhere. It’s been about 4 years and no rust either.

What was said by @steve076 is true. You had better know how to install them or you will have false sense of safety and may cost a life. Thst also goes for the ones you mentioned. You also have to properly adjust your fall protection harness or you could injure yourself if you slide off the side. There’s a lot to think about. Even the shoes you wear. I like Cougar Paws.

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This type is anchor is for fall protection, meaning you cannot allow shock on to your lanyard, so you must always have no slack between you and the anchor point and under no circumstances should the length of the lanyard allow you to go over the edge of the roof line.
Should you shock the line with a fall of 3’ or more the force applied to that anchor point would be in excess of 3000lbs (if you weigh 150lbs) which would snap those nails off or tear the whole anchor off the roof.

Werner or guardian makes the one I was talking about. It’s raited for 5,000 pounds and also gets fastened to the rafters. It also comes with a safety rope you attach to. Like someone said it’s not ment to shock your lanyard but it provides you fall protection gob forbid you slip or misstep.

Someone mentioned cleaning from only a ladderI haven’t cleaned any roofs yet but if it’s a walkable roof I would imagine it would be much faster to walk and spray than spray from the ladder? However the time saved isn’t worth it if I can’t be safe

Agreed. That’s how I used it. Just enough slack to stay where I was working.

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If you are planning on leaving a permanent structure on the roof, should have at least a compliance plate on or leading to the anchor points informing other trades of the rating of the anchor points and their purpose whether being for fall arrest or fall restraint.

I have a close friend who I originally got him a job doing high rise over 15 years ago he is now running his own company with a bunch of guys doing anchor point installs/certifications and rope access, he tells me professional indemnity is a must.

Man, Im pushing 275, theres no hope for me. Ive been too big for most ladders, and denied a ride at the carnival because I couldnt fit. :pensive:

So do none of you guys tie off while on someone’s roof ? Isn’t it an OSHA requirement? Especially if you have employees

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A lot of different variables…but that pdf will tell you everything you need to know.


Fall positioning is what you need to know primarily & as an owner I don’t tie off unless 8 [with loose gravel] - 9/12 & up for my own safety [to sling building} most multi units with no snow factor are 6-7/12 here in the south, no employee walks anything steeper than 7/12 & I walk/ or climb for slinging] all the 8 and ups & stack rods are not osha approved

Here is the last one I threw together. Never walk backwards on a roof !

Fall positioning? lol. Tell that to the OSHA inspector when he fines you out of existence. I’ve seen guys get fined 3000 for not having their ladder 3 ft above the eave, and I’ve seen guys get fined 35000 for not having fall arrest systems in place. There’s so many regulations beyond fall protection that hardly anyone is fully up to par. Regulations for extension cords, hoses, hardhats, etc. In fact you have to have a safety plan in the truck at all times when working at heights. A job specific safety plan, not a one size fits all plan.

Chances of seeing an OSHA inspector on a residential roof wash are practically nil. Apartments and larger commercial projects the chances go up. They’re chasing the money is all. Storm damage roofing is a billion dollar a year industry, Everyone wants apiece of the pie. For instance in Illinois roofing contractors are state licensed where most other building trades are not. It’s almost a felony in illinois to roof a house without a state license, and I believe it is a felony in Florida if you can believe that. They have their own enforcement division running around cuffing up unlicensed roofers. They say it’s for public interests but they’re not cuffing up shotty deck builders and siders.

I am exempt from osha as an owner, but employees are not & I have been questioned by OSHA, a competing contractor called but as I stated I am exempt. I an in Florida I am not a roofer but have a roofing class code. And yea fall positioning !!!

Yep, Workmens comp and liability is way to high for me to have employees on the roof. I’m the only one that does roofs. Next year I have to figure out to either ditch roof cleaning or be willing to pay higher wc and figure out harnesses and anchors. Almost thinking ditching it will be easier lol