Experienced roofers are always in demand for installation, reroofing and repair work. If you want to work in the industry and take advantage of the ample job opportunities as an independent roofer, you simply need to be at least 18, have a high school diploma and be in good physical condition. However, before you can begin training under experienced roofers and picking up work as a freelancer, you need to invest in safety gear that will protect you from falls. The following guide outlines the type of fall protection equipment you should purchase if you want to become an independent roofer.
The main piece of equipment you need to purchase for your fall protection kit is a harness. Most of the other accessories you purchase will attach to your harness to help you remain stabilized as your work high above the ground.
When you purchase a harness you will need to provide your weight and height so the fall protection equipment retailer can provide you with a product that fits right.
The actual harness will be made of heavy-duty webbed material with padding for your shoulders and chest plus adjustable straps.
Must-have features of harnesses include a load impact indicator and multiple lanyard keepers. The load impact indicator will let you know if the harness has been involved in a serious fall. This is important if you are working on a job that supplies harnesses to workers. Never use a harness that has been involved in a fall.
The lanyard keepers will help you to secure the straps of the harness.
Make sure that any harness you purchase from a fall protection equipment supplier has labels that denote compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) safety standards.
Vertical Lifelines and Roof Anchors
A vertical lifeline is a heavy duty rope usually made of high grade polyester that resists abrasions and damage from ultraviolet light. The lifeline generally has a snap hook on one end. You use a lifeline with a stainless steel rope grab to help you move up and down easily if you need to scale a wall after a fall.
The snap hook will be attached to roof anchors so you will have a stable device holding the rope in place. If you fall, your vertical lifeline and rope grab will help you to break your fall so you can recover quickly, stay on the roof or the side of a building and not hit the ground.
Depending on the job you work on, roof anchors may already be installed or you may need to mount them yourself. Anchors should not be mounted closer than six feet from the edge of a roof.
Lanyards and Accessories
While they are simple devices to hold and secure items, not all lanyards are the same. A roofing fall protection kit may include web lanyard to attach to the webbed straps of your harness and a shock absorbing, stretchable lanyard.
One end of the stretchable lanyard will be attached to the hip part of your harness and the other end to roof anchors or railings. The shock absorbing lanyards help you remain stable if you trip or fall.
Other protective gear you should purchase include safety glasses, a construction hat and work gloves.
Maintenance and Care of Equipment
Once you have all of the above equipment and accessories, your roofing fall protection kit is complete. In order to protect your equipment, purchase a heavy duty bag from a fall protection supply retailer. Some roofers also keep their straps and lanyards in waterproof buckets sold by equipment suppliers.
Do not let dirt or other substances accumulate on your equipment. You can clean your harness with a solution of mild soap, water and a sponge. Let the harness air dry but keep it away excessive heat.