Safety first

Santa should be the only one on a roof without a safety harness.  (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

Recently, I had a person fall off my roof.

I had an appointment and had to leave a crew needing access to our roof. The workers said harnesses and all other safety measures were in place. I had an odd feeling, turned the car around, and drove home. I walked in my front door and went up the stairs to hear a loud scrape, thump, and sounds of someone falling off my roof. I ran to our backyard to assist the crew. To get to the end first, this person was lucky. I’m not going into the specifics, but after we called 911, the EMTs took him to the hospital for further evaluation. He was injured, but he walked away. Thank goodness. 

I’ve recently heard more incidents of people falling off roofs and ladders, even in my own family. It’s not the secret club anyone wants to join. According to the World Health Organization, the United States leads the world in ladder deaths. There are more than 164,000 emergency room visits each year caused by falls from ladders, with over 300 deaths. There is no way to track home injuries, so the wounds are always much higher than reported. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 150,000 Americans require medical treatment after a roofing accident. 

Accidents can happen whether you are a professional with all the safety knowledge or a weekend warrior trying to fix a broken set of lights. I want to remind people to work in teams around roofs and ladders. The CDC states that 97% of roofing and ladder accidents happen at home. I’m not suggesting we need to bubble-wrap ourselves when doing the most straightforward task, but ’tis the season to be cautious. Remember, Santa is the only one on the roof without a safety harness, but he also has flying reindeer. If you have a set of those, please share them with the neighborhood for numerous reasons. 

When setting the ladder, check it twice and follow basic safety rules: Use the right ladder for the job, check it’s in good working order, set it correctly, and when ascending and descending, keep three points of contact. Please be extra careful when snow accumulates and shoveling off the roof becomes necessary. If that string of winter decorations isn’t lit on one side and there is no Grinch to hold the ladder, be a Safety Scrooge and move on to the next task. Stay safe. 


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