“Winter is coming,” as they say in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire. Luckily for roofers, you don’t have to deal with dragons, wights, and whatever else—but the weather does still pose challenges in many areas. We have winter roofing safety tips you need to ensure a safe and productive season!
1. Now’s the Time to Expand Your Business
For roofers in some areas—and contractors in general—the weather is severe enough that winter is considered the “off-season.” It’s common to see people managing these businesses turn to snow removal as a way to generate income while it’s too cold and snowy to install new roofs or do other outdoor jobs, like landscaping.
However, you can keep your roofing business going even during the off-season. To start, don’t let customers forget about you. Post ads, send out flyers or do what works best in your area to get the word out about your business so that you have plenty of jobs lined up come spring. Make sure homeowners also know they can count on you to remove snow from rooftops or fix damage caused by snow and ice, which is a common problem over the winter.
2. Drive Safely
Working in the winter often means traveling in snowy or icy conditions. Remember to take it slow—and use chains on your tires if need be. In the worst driving conditions, don’t hesitate to call off the job for the day. In severe weather, staying home is the best winter roofing safety tip to keep your crew safe.
3. Watch Out for Dehydration
Dehydration sounds like a summertime problem when you’re sweating and thus, losing a lot of water—but it’s also a wintertime problem, too. Workers doing heavy work will often find themselves sweating beneath layers of heavy clothes, which leads to water loss, and icy winds can contribute to dehydration, too. Keep water onsite and make sure people drink regularly to prevent this from becoming a problem.
4. Guard Against Hypothermia
In summer, heatstroke is a big danger. In winter, it’s hypothermia, which happens when your core body temperature falls below the level required for critical organs to function. Low temperatures and moisture are the two big causes of hypothermia. Protect your crew against it by ensuring that everyone is wearing three layers: an inner layer to wick away moisture, an insulating layer to keep warmth in, and an exterior layer to keep moisture out.
5. Take Care Against Frostbite, Too
This is another wintertime danger. The ears, nose, fingers, and toes are most susceptible to frostbite, so make sure to bundle up with gloves, warm socks and boots, and hats, earmuffs, or even a ski mask to protect the nose and ears. It’s also smart to take regular breaks somewhere warm to keep the extremities from being exposed to frigid temperatures for too long.
6. Ice Leads to Falls
And falls lead to injuries. Guard against falls by taking precautions against ice. On a rooftop, you can install temporary guardrails to protect workers from falls should they slip on ice. Also, make sure to check ladders for ice since an icy rung can cause you to slip or lose your grip on the ladder. Make sure that the ladder is placed safely, too. Remove snow and ice from beneath it, and make sure to break ice away from the point of contact where it leans against the eaves so it doesn’t slip.
7. Choose the Right Underlayment
Sometimes roofing installs are unavoidable in the winter—especially if a recent winter storm damaged a roof badly enough that it needs replacement. At the same time, the very same weather that damaged the roof in the first place can lead to delays in installation since you need dry, non-snowy days to install the new roof.
What’s the solution here? Your best bet is to install an underlayment that can go down quickly while the weather is dry, and that can protect the rooftop if necessary while you wait for another dry day to install the primary roofing material.
An underlayment that features ice and water shielding is the best bet for cold, snowy environments. Typically, these are peel and stick varieties of synthetic underlayment—just like Epilay’s Plystik Plus, which features Ice Dam protection. This is an underlayment that has flexibility and durability so the material won’t become brittle and crack in cold weather. It also forms a tight, impermeable seal to the roof deck, which will keep the deck protected during inclement weather until you can get the primary roofing material installed.
Whether you’re doing full roofing jobs in the winter or taking it as an off-season, the winter roofing safety tips above will help you and your crew stay safe, healthy, and productive. Take care to stay warm—and on those days where the weather is too bad to work, spend time prepping for an influx of business come spring.