If you've decided to save some money and put on a new roof yourself, you have a lot of work ahead of you. Putting on a roof is a labor intensive job and it is done in a difficult work environment. Safety should be your utmost concern, even if the precautions slow down your progress. Here are a few things to keep in mind so you stay safe while working on your roof.
Have Roofing Materials Delivered to the Rooftop
One thing you want to avoid if possible is carrying roofing supplies up a ladder. The best way to avoid that is to have the roofing materials supplier deliver the shingles right to the rooftop of your home. That saves a lot of work hauling small batches up a ladder. Other things you'll need such as a nail gun, hammer, utility knife, and crowbar can be hoisted to the roof with a rope and bucket so you don't have to climb a ladder with them in your hands.
Buy or Rent a Fiberglass Ladder
Electrocution is a real danger when you're on the roof since you'll be close to power lines. You want to pay close attention to where you place the ladder and how you handle metal flashing. Even if you don't actually touch a live line, you could still get a shock because electricity can arc from a power line to a metal object that is a few feet away. One way to eliminate the danger of working on a metal ladder is to invest in a ladder made of fiberglass or wood so it doesn't attract electricity. Also, stay alert and use caution when positioning the ladder and working with flashing. It's easy to make mistakes or be sloppy when you get tired, and that's when the risk of injury is the greatest.
Use a Harness and Roof Brackets
Sliding off the roof is a real possibility if the surface is slick or if you lose your footing. One way to prevent a fall is to wear a safety harness. A harness is especially critical if the slope on your roof is steep or if your home has more than one level. Otherwise, consider using roof brackets along the lower portion of the roof. The brackets hold boards in place that catch you if you start to slide off the roof. The boards can also provide secure footing so you don't have to rest against a gutter that could give way.
Work in Ideal Weather
If you decide to install the roof yourself, you'll probably have to trade speed for safety and money savings. Instead of pushing yourself to finish the job in a couple of days, you may need to work in the early morning and evening hours to avoid being on the roof in the heat of the day in the summer. Also, stay off the roof if it is wet because it is much easier to slip on wet roofing. Wait until the roof is completely dry after a rain. Stay off the roof if bad weather is approaching since lightning can strike several miles ahead of a storm and you don't want to be on the roof if lightning is in the area.
In addition to these safety tips, you'll want to have a plan for the job. This requires organization so you know what to do with every nail and every tool when it isn't in your hands. Anything resting on the roof becomes a tripping hazard, so you want to be tidy as you work. Plus, you don't want a bunch of nails rolling off the roof and endangering people and pets on the lawn. Make sure you understand how to use all the equipment you'll buy or rent such as a nail gun, so you don't injure yourself due to inexperience. And always work with a buddy so if something goes wrong, you'll have another person around to offer assistance or call for help.