GOING UP? STAYING SAFE WHEN INSPECTING A ROOF March 15, 2022 | Inspection Tips | inspection industry By Jon McCreath, NPI, Inc.'s Technical Supervisor & Training Administrator As an inspector, your job is to give as much detail about the home as possible. That means going into every nook and cranny you can to try to spot problem areas. However, there may be times when accessing a section of the home just isn’t possible. In fact, inspecting it could even put you in harm’s way. One such portion of the home where you always need to exercise caution is on the roof. Roofs and Falls Roofs can be extremely dangerous if you aren’t careful. Over 150,000 people each year require emergency care due to falling off a roof. Nearly 10 percent of those either result in life-threatening injuries or are fatal. All it takes is one mistake and you could find yourself needing medical assistance. But with some preemptive assessments, your risk of falling off a roof can be greatly reduced. Examine the Roof’s Condition Before you even get on top of the building you’re inspecting, try to get a visual from the ground. Look for potential hazards such as growth on tiles, missing or severely worn sections, and even any signs of water or ice. These can make any roof a minefield of falling dangers, especially roofs that have steeper angles. If you spot any of these issues and feel as though it’s not safe to climb, you definitely shouldn’t risk it. The Right Outfit The clothes you wear on a roof inspection really do make a difference. Namely, what’s on your feet. Shoes or boots that have good treads, flat soles, and are heavier are usually the best. While it may seem like a cleat-style would be best since it can stick into the roof, you could end up damaging the shingles with them. That could result in an unhappy client who then has to repair the shingles you damaged. You should also check that the shoes you’re wearing don’t have any mud or debris on them, as dirty soles can impair traction. Ladder Choices Along with being safe on the roof, ladder safety is just as important. First, you need to make sure that you’re using the right one for the job. That includes checking the material, height, rating, and even the condition of the ladder you use. When choosing the material, aluminum is your best friend as it’s lighter to carry around a jobsite. A ladder that can be adjusted for the roof height will make things easier for you. (Remember that the top should extend three feet above the contact point of what you lean the ladder against.) Lastly, to find the duty rating you should work with, calculate the weight of yourself + your equipment and add some extra for leeway. Climbing On Up As you go to set your ladder in position, look for a clear area to work in. It should be flat and free of any water or other items that could cause it to slide out. If your clients are on the inspection with you, place flags or cones around your ladder to prevent anyone from knocking into it. When climbing to the roof, go slow and place your foot firmly on the step. Don’t try to reach or grab for anything as you could lose your balance and fall off. Once you're up, perform your inspection at a safe pace and remember to watch your footing. Consider Extra Help Sometimes a client may want a visual of the home even though you’ve deemed it unsafe to inspect. In cases like these, utilizing a drone could be useful. A quality drone will provide high-resolution photos and videos to give an overall assessment of the roof. If you plan on using drones on your inspections, you’ll need to be sure you’re properly certified, and clearly explain what they entail to your customer. Drones are a great compromise for when you want to stay safe and keep your client happy. Want to know more about ladder and roof safety? Reach out to Jon McCreath at firstname.lastname@example.org . About the Author Jon McCreath, Technical Supervisor & Training Administrator A former NPI franchise owner and real estate agent, Jon joined the NPI corporate team in 2019. With his inspection expertise and foundation in classroom instruction, Jon teaches and mentors new franchisees during their two-week training course in Omaha. He also handles technical support calls during and after office hours and guides franchisees through the state licensing process.