How to Use a Roof Safety Harness 


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Without the right know-how and safety gear, repairing your roof can be full of hazards. CNNMoney labeled roofing as one of America’s most dangerous jobs, and even trained professionals aren’t immune to rooftop accidents and fatalities.

If you need to do the job yourself, you’ll want to know how to use a roof harness as part of a personal fall arrest system (PFAS). Keep reading to find out more about the features and benefits of roof harnesses and how to use a roof safety harness correctly.

What Is a Roof Harness?

A roof safety harness is the network of straps that connects you to the rest of your PFAS. It fits around your shoulders, back, chest, and legs to prevent you from hitting the ground if you fall from a roof. The roof harness is designed to evenly distribute your weight when you fall, which lessens your risk of injury.

Get familiar with the main parts of a roof safety harness.

  • Shoulder straps
  • Back D-ring
  • Chest strap
  • Leg straps

Why a Harness Is Needed?

Buckles and Straps Ensure Full Fall Protection

The system of buckles and straps on a roof harness gives you full fall protection when it’s properly attached to a solid anchor point.

Prevent Accidents and Fatalities

According to attorneys at Rad Law Firm, 97 percent of all roof and ladder accidents happen at home. Wearing a roof safety harness such as those worn by professional roofers reduces your risk of injury and death due to a fall.

Increases Productivity

When you have peace of mind, you do your best work. Wearing a properly attached roof safety harness helps you to relax and finish your project quickly and safely.

Decreases Liability and Legal Problems

You have some roofing skills, and your elderly neighbor who’s on a fixed income needs some emergency roof repairs. You want to help out with the project. However, who pays the hospital bills if you fall off of your neighbor’s roof and are unable to go to your job Monday morning? Do you know if it's covered by homeowner's insurance? By wearing a roof safety harness, you can decrease liability and legal issues for you and your neighbor. 

Types of Roofing Accidents That Happen Without a Harness

Fall Due To Collapsed Roof

Roofs consist of a series of support beams and plywood sheeting. Roof repairs are often needed because roofs have moisture damage. As you walk on a compromised roof, it’s likely that damaged sections will collapse. Without a properly attached roof harness, you’ll slip straight through the roof or slide and fall to the ground.

Fall Due To Flying Objects or Debris

Many times you can predict windy conditions by consulting local weather stations, but there are instances when a gust of wind comes seemingly out of nowhere. If wind carries a tree branch into your work area, the flying object could make you unsteady and cause a fall. The same type of accident can happen if there are leaves or other debris on the roof that create a slip hazard. Besides knowing how to use a safety harness on a roof, attempt to remove loose debris from the roof using a backpack leaf blower before starting your project.

Fall Due To an Unsteady Ladder

Ladders are standard pieces of equipment on construction worksites. However, they need to be placed on cleared, level ground to offer service that’s safe and reliable. If your ladder falls, you’ll likely fall too. If you’re wearing a roof safety harness, the fall won’t end in serious injury or death.

Most injuries and fatalities that are caused by these accidents can be avoided. However, you need to know how to use a roof safety harness properly.

How to Use a Harness

  1. Inspect Your Harness. You can buy or rent roof safety harnesses from reputable local and online dealers. If you decide to rent a harness, you’ll want to take some time to inspect it for wear or damage. It’s likely that your company replaces its harnesses regularly and doing the inspection is just a precautionary act. If you purchase your own roof harness for periodic roofing projects, it shouldn’t show too much wear and tear. If you have a fall with it, inspect it immediately afterward for damage. Roof harnesses that are properly maintained and stored last an average of five years.
  2. Put On Your Safety Harness. People who don't know how to use a safety harness on a roof can injure themselves even while wearing the harness. You’ll want to make sure that your harness straps are straight and not twisted and that it fits snug around shoulders, back, chest, and legs. Make sure that your D-ring, which should rest on your back between your shoulder blades, is positioned correctly. Attach your lanyard to the correct D-ring, which is the one on your back.
  3. Calculate Fall Distance. After you establish what section of the roof that you need to occupy for your project, you’ll want to calculate the fall distance from that point to the ground. OSHA standards mandate that the harness should stop your fall after 6 feet. Adjust your PFAS lifeline rope, lanyard, and harness to make this happen.
  4. Install Anchor Point. Find a roof truss or other solid wood beam. Position anchor. Screw the anchor into the truss or solid beam.
  5. Connect Personal Fall Arrest System to Anchor. Attach your roof harness to the anchor. The rope attachment usually includes a safety carabiner that only opens with a deliberate push of a button to prevent accidents.
  6. Remain Close to Your Anchor Point. By staying close to the anchor point, you decrease your risk of injury during a fall. If you need to move to work on another section of your roof, you’ll want to create another anchor point and calculate your 6-foot fall distance for that point.

Know someone who is about to tackle a challenging roofing project? Please share this valuable safety information with them. Need help locating the right roof harness for your next project? Leave your question in the contact box.

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