Heads up! It’s roofing season!

Roofing is a dangerous business. Whether a commercial or residential building, no matter how tall that building is, there’s always a risk that a roofer could fall and be seriously injured or killed. 

Plus, roofs aren’t designed to manage a lot of foot traffic. So, while inspecting roofs and making repairs or completely replacing them, roofers must strike a delicate balancing act when walking on any roof.

Of note, OHS Canada reported an Ontario-based roofing company was fined $137,500 after a contractor who wasn’t wearing fall protection was killed while installing a roof on a private residence. While fall protection equipment was available on site for use at the time of the incident, the worker was not wearing the equipment when they fell from the roof.

safety tips for roofers

Download Our FREE Insurance Whitepaper

Learn everything you need to protect your small business.

Your email address will be used by Zensurance to provide latest news, offers and tips. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Zensurance - Small Business Insurance Guide
Save on business insurance - CTA

Related Posts

Sign Up for ZenMail

The best of Zensurance news, tips, and resources are delivered straight to your inbox.


Roofing companies have an obligation to ensure safety is ingrained in their culture and that the risk of accidents or injuries to workers and third parties is minimized to the greatest extent possible. Provincial occupational health and safety laws require employers to take every reasonable precaution to protect workers, provide information and instruction, and ensure workers properly use or wear the required equipment.

With that in mind, here are 14 essential safety tips for roofing companies and their crews before setting foot on any roof to do the important work they do:

1. Wear the Right Clothes and Personal Protective Equipment

It’s essential to wear flexible, comfortable clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement or drapes off your body. Don’t wear ripped clothing to avoid being snagged by a nail or any material on the roof. Invest in quality slip-proof, steel-toe boots, safety gloves, eye protection, and always wear a Canadian Safety Association-approved helmet or hard hat.

2. Be Aware of the Forecast

Roofing is hazardous work, but attempting to repair a roof in inclement or cold weather ups the ante significantly. Avoid roofing whenever the weather takes a turn (or is forecast to be unpleasant). Attempting to repair a roof in cold weather raises the risk of slips and falls, while rain and howling wind can send anyone for a tumble.

3. Always Use Ropes and Harnesses

Only climb a ladder or go topside if you wear a roof safety harness attached to safety ropes or lanyards that connect your harness to the anchorage. 

A harness is the one piece of safety equipment that can prevent you from plunging to the ground and suffering a serious injury. Safety regulations may vary by province, but in most provinces, it’s a requirement for a roofer to wear a “fall arrest system” if working at a height of three meters or more and there’s no guardrail installed.

4. Secure Your Ladder

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 34% of falls are from ladders, stairs, and roofs. Conduct a hazard assessment before using a ladder, and ensure the ladders you use are placed on a flat surface at a safe angle. Have a spotter holding the base of the ladder. Don’t use a damaged ladder; ensure it’s free of slippery material on the rungs.

The Infrastructure Health and Safety Association in Ontario advises using ladder stabilizers if using portable, manufactured ladders. Also, workers must not carry materials, tools, or equipment while climbing and descending ladders, and workers must be trained on the ladder’s setup, use and maintenance.

5. Use Guard Rails

Using self-standing and fixed guardrails for every job provides workers with a physical and visual barrier to prevent them from falling.

6. Clear the Roof of Debris

Put on gloves and remove debris such as leaves, twigs, or snow from the roof and work area. If necessary, hose the roof off and let it dry before starting work. A cluttered or messy work area can increase the risk of slips, trips, and falls. 

7. Exercise Caution When Using Nail Guns

Always exercise caution when using a tool like a pneumatic nail gun. Don’t point it at anyone. Only pull the trigger when the nail gun is pressed against the shingles you are installing. Be sure to disconnect the gun’s air supply and turn it off as soon as you’re done using it.

8. Be Mindful of Electrical Hazards

Look up and around to ensure no power lines are criss-crossing your work environment. If there are, call the local power utility company and seek their help before proceeding. If avoiding a power line is impossible, avoid touching those lines and use a wooden or fibreglass ladder instead of a metal one to access the roof.

9. Take It Slow and Steady

Repairing or replacing a roof takes focus, time, and effort. It’s not a rush job. So, take your time at every stage, work cautiously and methodically, and never work alone. 

10. Be Careful with Torch-Applied Roofing

Using torches when heat sealing a roof ups the safety stakes considerably. Torches can reach temperatures of 1093 degrees Celsius or more. Never leave ignited torches unattended, use only approved high-pressure hoses, designate one worker responsible for fire monitoring and have a dry chemical fire extinguisher within reach. 

The Infrastructure Health and Safety Association of Ontario also advises ceasing torching activities at least three hours before the end of a workday, inspecting the roof for hot spots using an infrared thermometer after work is done, and inspecting the building’s interior before leaving the worksite.

11. Practice Safe Lifting Techniques

Workers who attempt to lift more than they can handle or use improper lifting techniques run the risk of serious back injuries. Work as a team when lifting large and heavy materials, and keep your back straight and bend with your knees to avoid injuries.

12. Review Your Insurance Policy

Ensuring you have roofing insurance before embarking on any project is imperative. Different types of policies are available for the kind of roofing services you provide. For example, a shingle policy doesn’t cover flat roofs and cold applications.

Roofing insurance provides financial support if a client or third party sues you for bodily injury or property damage. If you’re a roofing business owner with a hired crew, consider adding employers’ liability insurance to your policy to complement the coverage your provincial workers’ compensation board provides.

Although it is not a legal requirement for a roofing contractor to carry insurance, most property owners will expect you to have a policy and a certificate of insurance.

13. Prevent Unauthorized Access to the Job Site

Avoid the risk of third-party bodily injuries to customers, passersby, and children by restricting access to the work site and materials. 

14. Do a Safety Inspection and Hold a Team Huddle

Before starting work each day, pull your team together to discuss what everyone’s responsibilities are and ensure they’re all on the same page. 

Conduct a thorough safety inspection of the work area and equipment before and after work. Talk about individual assignments for the job and safety requirements, and ensure all safety precautions are met.

Hold another quick team meeting at the end of the workday to ensure everything has been shut down correctly and securely stored. Discuss what progress was made, address any safety concerns your team has, and talk about what the next steps in the project will be.

What Type of Insurance Do Roofing Companies Need?

A roofing insurance policy contains different coverages. The policy your roofing company requires depends on several factors, like the type of roofing services you provide. A Zensurance broker will customize your policy to address your firm’s specific risks.

In general, a roofing insurance policy for independent roofing contractors or small businesses typically includes the following three coverages:

  • General liability insurance to cover third-party bodily injuries and third-party property damage claims. For instance, if a loose shingle flies off a roof where you’re working, strikes a passerby and injures them, general liability insurance is designed to pay for their medical expenses.
  • Tools and equipment insurance to protect your transportable tools and equipment (including heavy vehicles like a crane) if damaged by fire, water, a natural disaster, vandalism, or stolen from a job site, secured storage facility, or business vehicle.
  • Pollution liability insurance to pay for claims alleging pollution-related liabilities that cause third-party bodily injuries, third-party property damage, and sudden or gradual environmental damage on a job site.

It’s also possible your roofing company may need to include professional liability insurance (aka errors and omissions insurance) if you provide consulting and design services.

How to Get Low-Cost Roofing Insurance Fast

Keep your insurance premium cost low to the ground with Zensurance.

It only takes five minutes to fill out our online application for a free quote for your roofing insurance needs. 

Our licensed brokers will shop our partner network of more than 50 leading Canadian insurance companies to get you the customized policy you need at an affordable price.

– Updated May 3, 2024.

Related Posts

Share This Story:

About the Author: Aharshan Thangarasa

Aharshan Thangarasa is a licensed commercial insurance broker and Team Lead, Contractors, at Zensurance.