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How To (Safely) Walk on Your Roof Without Slipping

December 2022
6 minutes read

It’s no secret that a steep roof can become slippery. Many homeowners fall off their roofs because they’re not taking the necessary precautions to stay safe. 

If you have to go up your home’s roof, make sure you read our advice on how to walk on a roof first. We’ll teach you to use proper safety precautions to prevent major falls, especially when working on steep roofs.

Wear Appropriate Clothing and Footwear

The first step to understanding how to walk on a roof safely is to wear gloves, suitable clothing, and the proper footwear. Avoid loose clothing that could potentially blow around in the wind and cause you to lose balance. 

Wear shoes with good traction. Leather soled shoes are not ideal for walking on a roof. It’s best to wear rubber-soled shoes. Soft-soled shoes will provide better traction and help you avoid slipping. Ensure your shoes are clean and free of any dirt or other debris. 

how to walk on a roof safety

Assess Weather Conditions

If it’s been raining or snowing recently, the rooftop will likely become slick and more dangerous to walk on. It’s best to avoid going on the roof altogether during inclement weather. Remain extra careful If you must walk on the roof while it’s wet or during high winds.

Your best strategy is to wait for the roof to dry off before attempting to walk on it. Stay off the roof during a thunderstorm as lightning could strike you

Secure the Tools You’ll Use

If you’re carrying any tools while walking on the roof, make sure they’re properly secured. You don’t want anything falling off the roof and injuring someone below. Wear a tool belt or backpack to keep your hands free while carrying tools. You can use a rope to secure heavier equipment before climbing up on the roof. 

Always Have Another Person Present

It’s always best to have someone else present when you’re walking on a roof. You’ll appreciate having someone there to immediately help if you fall from the roof. 

Assess Roof Condition

Before you even think about walking on your roof, you must assess the roof’s condition. Always consider the following:

  • Loose roofing items: Look for any loose shingles or tiles that could potentially cause you to trip. 
  • Clear debris from your path: Clear debris, such as leaves or branches, to avoid slipping and falling. 
  • Avoid walking on moss: Moss often grows on roofs, especially in damp climates. It becomes slippery, so it’s best to avoid it. 

Use a Proper Roof Ladder (Not a Wooden Ladder)

A proper ladder is essential safety equipment you should use. Avoid using an old wood ladder. Roof ladders are specifically designed for this purpose and are much safer to use. 

Most roofing professionals use extension ladders. It’s imperative to set the base on firm ground. Then, extend the ladder up to the edge of the roof. Doing this allows you to climb up the ladder and onto the roof more easily.

The ladder should extend at least three feet above the edge of the roof so that you can safely get on and off the ladder. When you’re ready to start walking on the roof, take your time and be careful. Climb up slowly and avoid making any sudden movements. Keep your body close to the center of the roof as you walk to maintain balance.

Wear a Roof Harness

If you’re going to be walking on the roof for an extended period, it’s a good idea to wear a roof harness. A roof safety harness is a seatbelt that fits around your waist. Use it to attach yourself to the roof. It’s similar to the safety harnesses that rock climbers and construction workers use. 

how to walk on a roof harness

You can buy a roof harness at most home improvement stores. They’re relatively inexpensive and easy to use. When wearing a roof harness, attach it to something sturdy on the roof. Use a chimney, for instance. 

You can use a roof bracket to avoid slipping off a steep roof. Attach brackets to the roof before you start walking on it. Then, use a 2×4 as steps held in place by the brackets.

Walk With Your Arms Out on a Steep Roof

When walking on a steep roof, keep your arms in the air to help maintain your balance. Walking with your arms at your sides can make it easier to lose your balance and fall. You should also lean forward slightly to maintain balance and walk safely on a steep pitch.

Descend the Roof Properly

When you’re ready to come down from the roof, do so carefully and slowly. Use the proper ladder technique, so you don’t slip and fall. Proper ladder technique includes facing the ladder as you descend and holding on with both hands.

Other Important Roof Safety Tips

Pay attention to these additional tips when walking on a roof.

  • Avoid climbing near a power line: If you notice a power line near your roof, avoid climbing anywhere near it. Touching it could lead to electrocution.
  • Avoid stucco or asphalt roofs: Stucco and asphalt roofs are fragile. They can easily break as you step on them. 
  • Use caution when opening a skylight: If your roof has a skylight, be careful if you need to open it. Look for anyone who might be below you before opening it. You don’t want any debris to fall and cause an injury.
  • Be careful near the edge: Take extra precautions when working near the roof’s edge. Tighten your harness. Secure a bracket and use the 2×4 as your anchor point. Doing so will make sure an accidental slip doesn’t cause you to fall off the edge.

Final Thoughts

Walking on a roof can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Be sure to follow the tips outlined above to avoid potential dangers. 

And remember, if in doubt about how to walk on a roof, don’t hesitate to call a professional roofing contractor. They can assess the situation and make sure it’s safe for you to walk on your roof.

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Written By:
Olu Shokunbi

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