Roofing safety tips

When it comes to working on a roof, looking after your safety should be top of the list, no matter how easy you think it’s going to be.


Going up onto a roof without the correct preparation, equipment and know-how is a high risk activity. Falls are associated with more deaths and serious injuries in construction than any other accidents and roofers account for 24% of those people killed in falls from height.

Slips and falls through fragile materials, such as roof lights and asbestos sheeting, account for more of these deaths than any other single cause. Not all those who are killed while working on roofs are trained roofers: many people accessing roofs are maintenance workers. There are also many serious injuries, often resulting in permanent disabilities.

A signage company based in Sheffield, has been fined after a worker fell five metres from a flat roof. Three fitters accessed a neighbouring flat roof to fit the sign when one worker fell from the roof. He sustained life threatening injuries, including a fractured skull, several broken ribs, a collapsed lung and chipped vertebra.

A Cornish company has been fined after a worker fell through a fragile roof. While installing solar panels, the cement fibre sheeting he was walking on gave way and he fell approximately fifteen feet. He suffered multiple injuries including several fractured vertebrae.

A Stoke on Trent company has been fined after an employee suffered serious injury when he fell through a roof skylight. The young worker accessed an unprotected roof and fell through the skylight. He suffered three cracked vertebrae.

A Hemel Hempstead company has been fined after a worker suffered life changing injuries when he fell from the roof of a barn. The worker was placing scaffold boards along the roof ridge when he fell through the fragile roof to the concrete floor eight metres below. He suffered multiple injuries to his head and neck including a brain stem injury, a punctured lung, broken ribs and a lacerated liver. The contractor is now unable to talk, move or feed himself and requires residential care.

All these were taken from the HSE website, the companies faced heavy fines and the contractors suffered severe injuries.

While the roofing industry’s safety performance is steadily improving, don’t be a story on the HSE website, use common sense, take your time and put safety first. Whether you’re a DIY’er looking to do some minor maintenance work or a contractor preparing to start a large roofing project, by following the relevant safety practices you can dramatically reduce the chances of an accident.

Wear the correct clothing and equipment

Protective clothing and footwear is essential on a roofing project. You should have a pair of shoes or boots with good grippy soles and a sturdy safety helmet and hi visibility jacket.

A safety harness isn’t always required, but if you’re working on a pitched roof then you need to be wearing one. Make sure the harness is appropriate for the use and securely attached to an anchor point of sufficient strength.

Depending on the type of work you are doing and the types of materials you are working with might require the use of different safety clothing, for example liquid applied roof coatings like ours, will require the use of gloves and eye protection so always read the materials safety information before using the product to establish what additional personal protection you might need.

Extra safety clothing like work trousers and shirts with additional pockets for easy access to tools and other items are a good addition, while wearing knee pads can provide additional comfort and prevent knee fatigue or injury from sharp objects.


UK Work at Height Regulation states that roofing work should not be carried out on roofs in icy, rainy or windy conditions. Water, wet leaves and moss on a roofs surface can cause dangerous slip hazards, subsequently, anyone carrying a roof sheet can easily be blown off the roof if they are caught by strong winds.

Always check the weather before starting a roofing project and schedule a time for the work when the weather forecast has predicted a block or back to back good weather days. This increases the chance it’s going to be accurate and also means the roof should be dry when you go up there.

On really hot days avoid excessive exposure to sunlight by wearing appropriate clothing and using sun creams, if you’re installing a new roof you should always read the product information, roofing in extremely hot temperatures can lead to product application failure.


Spend some time before starting to get all your materials and tools prepared and ready to go, there’s nothing worse than getting up there and realising that you’ve left something behind. Depending on the type of roofing project you’re doing it’s a good idea to make a checklist of the materials and tools you’re going to need to complete the project.

It can be surprising the amount of equipment and materials you might need to take up to roof level so remember if you do lift any heavy materials, always use your legs and not your back and don’t overload yourself, carrying too much not only tires you out but it’s unsafe on ladders and rooftops.

You must never attempt roofing work alone, having a second pair of hands to hold the ladder and help with materials is great, but more importantly if an accident does happen then you’ll have someone there to help.

Ladder safety

Getting on and off the roof is a major risk and you should always make sure to set up the ladder correctly. Place your ladder on a solid level surface and always set the ladder on a firm backing. When extending the ladder make sure its around 3 feet above the landing point to provide a safe place to grab when moving from roof to ladder.

When climbing always face the ladder, and go up one rung at a time using the hand over hand method, never releasing your grip of one rung before grabbing the next one. Sliding your hands up the side of the ladder is unsafe as this doesn’t give you the best grasp.

Don’t force the ladder because it’s to short, this makes it too steep and very unstable, also make sure you don’t have to reach or stretch too far off the ladder. Never leave ladders lying around, when you’ve finishing for the day remove all ladders from the work area and store them in a safe, secure location.


At ground level make sure the working area is kept clear and blocked off from children and pets. Minimise slip and trip hazards by removing any site debris or objects and locate and avoid site area dangers such as power lines and unsafe access areas.

On the roof, leaves and moss can create a slippery surface, so make sure you sweep off any debris and dirt that could potentially cause you to slip. Also remove any protruding nails or other fasteners that could injure you when kneeling on the roof.

These are only general guidance tips for working on a roof surface, depending on the type you may need to take additional safety measures. Know your limitations and if you’re a home owner and uncomfortable with heights or feel unsure about climbing on a roof and attempting the work yourself, don’t! Know your limitations and call a professional.

Allbase runs its own nationwide network of contractors who have been fully trained and approved to install our products. They have gone through a strict and thorough application process and possess excellent work and business ethics and go the extra mile for their customers.

Choosing a Allbase approved contractor for your next roofing project is an assurance that you’ll be dealing with a quality, reputable, and dependable roofing professionals, enquire today for a free survey.