Santa Claus is preparing to deliver Christmas gifts to children around the world. When St. Nick and his reindeer arrive on Christmas Eve, Santa will hop from his sleigh and head to the chimney.
Please, Santa, be careful!
Walking on a roof is dangerous to individuals and the roof itself.
Target Roofing & Sheet Metal commends Santa for being light on his feet. However, our roofing inspectors routinely note damage caused by foot traffic from contractors. Trades workers routinely access roofs to clean tiles and dryer vents, install solar panels and satellite dishes, and perform maintenance. In doing so, they are inadvertently damaging roofs across Southwest Florida.
Below is an overview of the dangers associated with walking on a roof:
Roofing ranks No. 4 on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of the most dangerous occupations in America. Roofers can suffer cuts, bruises, muscle tears, ligament damage and broken bones and unfortunately, one of the highest rates of fatal injuries in the U.S.
Below are four reasons why roofing is so dangerous:
- Sloped roofs: Pitched roofs are inherently difficult to walk on, and your footing is never solid. Imagine hiking up a steep hill, one misstep, and you’re tumbling 15 feet or more to the ground.
- Existing damage: If a roof has a leak, water likely penetrated the roof decking and may have caused structural rotting. Stepping on the vulnerable roofing areas could break away and send a person directly into a building’s interior.
- Weather conditions: Thunderstorms are most common in the afternoon, but can appear quickly and at any time of day. Even after the lightning all-clear is sounded, wet roofs still pose slip hazards.
- Roofing materials: Roofers are potentially exposed to chemicals and toxic fumes during installation and repairs, as well as blistering heat, strong UV rays, power tools and extremely heavy materials.
Roofs are built to last. Manufacturer warranties generally extend at least 15 years, with many covering up to 25 or 30 years. However, the fine print usually notes that damage caused by individuals is not covered under terms of the warranty.
Walking on a roof can damage each of the four primary types of roofs:
- Flat roofs: A commercial building’s flat roof can be full of trip hazards: A/C units, telephone lines, antennas and cables. Shoes and equipment can rip up or puncture membranes.
- Metal roofs: Sheet metal is a sturdy material, but panels can be dented by foot traffic. Contractors carry tools that can scratch or dent panels, particularly on seams connecting panels.
- Tile roofs: Barrel tiles are extremely popular in Southwest Florida. They are heavy and durable when facing natural elements like wind and rain. However, tiles crack and chip easily under concentrated pressure, like an individual’s body weight.
- Shingle roofs: Asphalt shingles contain tiny granules that provide UV resistance, fire protection and help channel water off a roof. Walking on shingles create friction that causes granules to come loose. The granules can then clog gutters and downspouts, introducing costly drainage problems.
Building managers and property owners often solicit multiple estimates from contractors. While price is understandably a factor, make sure to ask how they plan to access your roof. Low fees are attractive, but if contractors damage your roof, it will cost more money in the long run.