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Roof Safety! Roof Safety whilst cleaning gutters or installing gutter protection revolves around not panicking and making assessments continuosly whilst up on the roof. The first aspect of roof safety is an uncontrolable factor, THE WEATHER. If its Wet... Don't do it! If it's Hot, don't do it! If it is ICY , what are you thinking! If it is Windy, why am I doing this today???? All these factors are common sense (I hope) except maybe for Wind and Heat, a seasoned veteran roofer or gutter cleaner can work in these conditions so long as they slow down and compensate for the risks. A normal home owner should ratehr not go up on a hot day or on a windy day. Windy day brings dangers of tools getting blown off the roof (and even you! If it's that strong!) . Hot days pose a danger of getting stuck on the roof, did you know that on most days in the summertime, you can fry an egg ontop of roof tiles or corrugated roofs? No lies. Heat causes the soles of your shoes to melt making it extra slippery up on the roof.
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Before we get into the pro stuff , like anchor points and caribeeners etc, lets talk about ladders. Ladders will kill you if extra care is not taken whilst using them. Before you learn about caribeeners , ropes , anchor points and lifelines, learn about ladder safety. I'm going to write 2 paragraphs on this subject of ladders as I find homeowners that are interested in tackling their own gutters are really interested in using harness gear. If your roof requires the use of a harness, you should not be doing it yourself unless you have worked in the industry before. The most important aspect of ladder work is to set it up at the correct angle, not too straight and not too slanted. If you set it up too straight or vertical, you are in danger of falling backwards away from your gutters. If you set it up too slanted, you are then in danger of falling straight down as the ladder slips out from underneath you! Remember if you are going to clean your gutters yourself, it is not recommended to use a ladder to access all the guttering, you should be doing it from the roof, it's safer! The longer you are off the ladder, teh better your chance of coming back alive.
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If you are setting up your ladder on grass, I suggest you use some wooden stakes to tie the last rung of the ladder to for extra resistance to slipping. Two stakes on either side of the ladder would be great! If you are expecting to use your ladder all day on the roof and want 100% resistance from ladder slips or tilts, I recommend to remove 2 tiles from the lsat row of tile and tie the ladder to the roof truss. If your roof has sarking underneath, then unfortunately you cannot tie the ladder into the roof truss. If you have an anchor point however, you can drill the anchor pint onto the truss through the sarking and tie a rope around the ladder and the anchor point for a great safety ploy. Another way to secute the bottom of the ladder if it is not on the grass is to move something (or roll something!) that is quite heavy and put it behind the ladder, so that the ladder butts up agianst the rock or pot plant. This will give you extra piece of mind that the ladder wont slip or slide out whilst you are climbing up and down. Take it slow on ladders guys, very slow.
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Caribeeners! If your roof is steep and you are looking to access your gutters via a safety harness set up, you will need the right caribeener. I place the importance of a fool proof caribeener higher than the importance of rope selection in your roof access kit. The caribeener gets used the most and you rely alot on them, if they open unexpectedly or you forget to close them, you will fly off that roof! LOCK LOCK LOCK your caribeeners! Preferably one that has a self locking, ie, you dont have to wind them close, they automatically lock themselves shut. If you don't have a self locking caribeener, make sure at the bare minimum it can actually lock! Remember some caribeeners are not used for climbing or roof safety and can easily be opened if they get in the right situation. Don't get distracted whilst locking or unlocking a caribeener, it could cost you your life. Rather invest the extra $10 to get a self locking caribeener. You would need a tleast 2 caribeeners per worker, one for the rope and pulley and once for the anchor point.
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Now let's touch on anchor points. I like the 250mm anchor points from Baileys Roof Safety in Australia. They are very versatile and can work an almost all roof situations. I found that the "Frog Link" (not sure if that is the correct name!) ones are too one dimensional. The 250mm Bars are great because with just two screws they provide adequate KN rating in all directions 360 degrees. You don't want to invest in an anchor point that will only give you a 45 Degree radius to work with. The 250mm Bars can also be used on a metal roof, all you need to do is take out 2 existing roof screws and screw them back in through the anchor point. Or on a tiled roof, remove 2 roof tiles, feel the sarking for where the roof truss is located and then screw the anchor point into the truss of the roof. It will only make a screws width hole in your sarking, which can easily be filled with a blob of silcione. Definitely only invest in anchor points that are designed and accredited for roof work in Australia, don't get something that is fine in England , but not suited to Australian standards. Also be aware that if you leave your anchor point on your roof and someone else uses it and falls... who ever is the home owner is likely to get sued. If you get anchor points installed by a profesional at your home or strata complex, keep in mind that they need to be checked every year. If they are not checked and recertified every year, then your strata could become liable for any injuries caused to tradespeople using your roof. So this was a brief explanation of some of my opnions on roof safety. Mostly home owners go for the ladder to roof option, and that's why I put more attention on ladders.
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