Illegal practices

I watched a couple of employees of a large WC company cleaning eavestroughs from the roof yesterday. This is, without proper fall restraint systems in place, an illegal practice here in Ontario. I am not sure, but it likely applies to the owner as well.
I hope none of you are doing this. it is great to be able to get through a job faster, but the opportunity for accidents is great.
It irritated me that my guys were across the street, doing the job in a legal fashion and these other guys were racing through, walking the roof.

John can you elaborate on the fall system? You guys cant clean gutters / eves just from a ladder?

… or even use a gutter vac? This way there are no ladders or roofs.

I have never stood/sat/crouched down on a roof and pulled gunk out but I have walked the roof with an extension pole and gutter scoop and dragged debris closer to my ladder/bucket. This has been critical in getting the job done when obstacles (trees and what-not) don’t allow you to ladder a certain section of gutter. Pitch of the roof is a big deciding factor for when I make this decision.

I guess you’re saying I’m breaking code? I don’t have a problem with what you’re saying. Can you point me in the direction (URL) for more info on this. Of course you having staff, you’ve got to know this but even as a one man show I have to be aware.

But still, even in window cleaning I have to walk the roof sometimes for skylights and some upper floor windows.

I will have to look up the info in my little green book, with the Ontario health and safety act and regulations. but I do believe you need a proper fall arrest system in place if you are walking the roof. If you are on the ladder your ok up to a certain height. although the act does have info for window cleaning, it does not specify for gutter cleaning. somewhere in my packed up stuff I’ll have to dig it out. I’m sure the ministry of labor site might have info or an umber to call to clear things up. Nothing like having the MOL show up and fine you. My brother was installing fascia on a house in Ottawa, he was on a ladder maybe about 10-12 feet, no harness, no one holding ladder, and ladder not tied off. He was fined $400 by the MOL.
Window cleaners we fall under special rules for ladder work, but i am not sure about the roof stuff.

here is a useful link: Workplace health and safety |

Required by the state here.

Fall arrest system:
Rope (static)
decent device.

A fall arrest system is similar to what “high rise” guys use. But just using one rope instead of two. In the state of Washington it consists of static climbing rope. Dynamic rope has too much stretch to it for using on residential homes. A industrial grade harness, a decent device. I use a short piece of rope with a prusik knot for my decent device. Its simple and “better” yes, better that mechanical decent devices due because the knot will bit in any direction its pulled.
Many newer homes around here have anchor points installed at the tops of roofs. Making operations much easier. Otherwise, I’ll have to find one such as a tree trunk or the hitch of my truck.
A large percentage of my gutter cleaning, debris removal,moss removal is done off the roof.
Once you have done it a few times it’s like second nature.
Hey maybe I’ll do a show in gutter cleaning northwestern style!:wink:
Here’s a video I found that uses similar practices.

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Thanks for the links Eric.

Only problem tho is that much of the info contained there apply to employers and employees. Getting info on how laws apply to self employed workers is quite difficult. I have no one to hold the ladder except my wife (which I have used a couple of times)

On another note, what is the legal definition of ‘walking a roof’. If I step off my ladder and walk up the roof to do a skylight or upper floor windows, you could say I’m walking the roof. But if I step off my ladder and walk the roof to get to a point where I can tie off to, am I not still walking the roof illegally for several steps? What if something happens in those first couple of steps? Not asking you specifically Eric, just putting this question out there.

For the youtube video post, did I see that guy blow all the leaves to the next house or what. Make a mess for someone else to deal with that will get you more customers.


Here’s what I know (without being able to quote the code directly)…
By walking the roof, I really mean their restriction on working within 6’ of the edge. You CAN walk to your tie off point without being tied off - i guess the brain trust just couldn’t figure that one out. Your walking around, using the pole would be in the restricted practices as you are too close to the edge. I tell clients that we do any sections of the eves that can be reached safely from the ladder.
Chris- yes we can work from a ladder, but it is faster to do it the other way - until you have to fill out all that nasty paper work for the coroner…
Mark, I asked a friend of mine about this today. We as owners / self employed individuals are required to play by the same rules.

Thank you John. You’ve given me lots to think about, especially for next year.

Hey Einstein, Did you ever think that it might be collected into one area and picked up?
Why assume that they blow into someones else yard?

Doesn’t Einstein also post over at the Mass–Energy Equivalence Forum?

Well, my job here is done…:slight_smile:

Mark, if you work alone like i do, we have to play by hte same rules. now obviously we as window cleaners do not always have the opportunity to tie off or have someone hold your ladder. but what you do need to exercise is due dilligence. You have to show the MOL (should they drop by your work site) that you are taking precautions, to work safe. I use the ladder stopper always, which isn’t recongnized as being able to replace a man at the bottom of the ladder here in Canada, but is a pro active step in the right direction. I have never had a run in with the MOL, but i will take the proper precautions when available. like wearing a harness and being certified to use a man lift.
If you do have employees it is your duty and legal responsibility to train your employees and have record and proof of training as well as a safety manual with specific instructions on ladder use/roof walking, whatever work your employees will doing. I took a massive health and safety training course once when i worked in long term care a few years back. and ive been slowly trying to put info together for window cleaning. when i get my ohsa book with hte regulations i will post what is related to window cleaning.

I just had to click on the link. Sweet!

Sometimes, not all the times, but just some of the times it is a common practice with some landscape companies (not all landscape companies)to blow the leaves,debris etc… onto other peoples property, or into the street so that cars, trucks and other motorized vehicles take the said leaves,debris etc… down the street to their new home onto other peoples property. I am sorry that my comment offended or could have possible slandered that wonderful company. I learned in 8th grade civics class that when you assume something you make an a** out of you and me. Again I am super sorry for for my comments. Sometimes guys with backpack blowers can get a bit crazy.


P.S Einstein is not a big fan of rate my vomit!!!:slight_smile:

P.S Einstein is not a big fan of rate my vomit!!!

Are you kidding? Einstein loves rate my vomit. Look at’em. He’s ready to hurl in that photo;)

I have heard that in Ontario Canada,
as this is the Canadian forum, starting, January,
we have to take a safety course for ladder usage or if you do not have a ticket/certifacate, you get fined.

Including homeowners?

just all businesses and employers and employees, not homeowners