Skylight & Roof Safety

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=3]Just wondering what are your thoughts on skylight cleaning safety outside on the roof?[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=3]I have heard that people use WFP, skate shoes, ropes and harnesses, clean them from a ladder with a pole, use a pole and a ledger. [/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=3]Anyway what works for you?[/SIZE][/FONT]

Hey Mike,

I work alone so my opinions are based on that fact.

I’ve cleaned many skylights and it’s always been nose to the glass. As Chris mentioned in another thread, there’s tons of stuff usually stuck on the glass such as pollen, bird droppings, pollution, etc. I pretty much have the same policy as Chris; If I can’t walk it, I don’t clean it.

I also do them nose to glass w/ few exceptions. I have done a couple off a ladder w/ a pole. I explained up front to the client that I might not get everything but since they had never been done (as long as she had the house - 15yrs) it was more important to her to get them as clean as I could from the ladder.

If the roof is not too steep and I can walk it I always get up close & personal. If the roof is not walkable for me I will do the best I can. Sometimes that includes a pre-scrub with a Blue Max sleeve on a 24’ extension pole and a final scrub and rinse with Water Fed Pole. Sometimes just the WFP (with hogs hair brush) does a good job.


The use of a wfp on a skylight will spot or look like crap no matter how much you scrub or rinse.

How steep is to steep? I’ll go on a 5 or 6 pitch roof. On a 7 pitch roof I feel uneasy. Am I a chicken? Is 7 about the limit for safty with no life line?

I totally disagree.

All of the above.

I disagree also. I use my wfp about 95% of the time and they turn out just fine. May take some extra scrubbing time though if they haven’t been cleaned in a while.

[COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]Perhaps my concern stems from the fact that New England Colonial Style homes have very steep roofs. A lot of the homes have 10 and 12 pitch roofs, some even more. I still don’t feel safe on anything more than a 6 pitch which would rule out way more than half the homes. Is a 6 pitch roof about the limit for safty?[/FONT][/COLOR]

Sounds like you answered your own question. If you’re not comfortable walking on a 6 or higher pitch roof, you shouldn’t be up there. Maybe you have not climbed many roofs. Regardless, there are safety measures that need to be taken.
First, a complete walk around of the house.Have the know how in what your about to do. Make sure someone knows that you are up there, customer or co-worker. In some cases it may be something you need to walk away from. Or you may need to price accordingly.

Second, you may need decent equipment. Here in Wash. we’re required to wear fall protection equipment (rope and harness) anytime we’re on a roof. It may be a OSHA thing too, not sure.

Third, common sense. It sounds kinda funny but listen to your gut feeling. I’ve had it happen so many time where I’m on a roof and something just doesn’t feel right. Thats a good sign for me just to back off and reassess the situation.

It doesn’t have to be a steep killer roof that can ruin you day. Falling off a flat roof can bust you up just the same.

Sweet avatar Jetcity! I’ll second the point about being comfortable when walking a roof. I did roofing for a few years and never walked anything over 8/12 pitch. I might have been able to walk a 9 or 10 but it was more than I was comfortable doing. Besides being careless, being uneasy on a roof is the fastest way down!

Thanks, I had it made. I may make some some stickers. If so, I’ shoot one your way.

That would be sweet! Thanks!

[COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]Thanks Tony and Jet City,[/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]I thought that there might be a common pitch that was considered safe to walk without a safety line. What I am hearing people say is it boils down to comfort. If you don’t feel comfortable on the roof it is to steep.[/FONT][/COLOR]

[COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]Younger, stronger, smaller and more athletic people probably feel safer on steeper roofs than the rest of us. I’m not as young as I used to be so maybe that needs to be part of my equation.[/FONT][/COLOR]

[COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]On ladders I go by this adage. “If you don’t feel safe it’s probably because your not!” I climb down and reset the ladder. Thanks again. [/FONT][/COLOR]

You have to strike a balance. Some guys on our crew get shakey knees on a 20ft ladder. I tend to go to the other extreme. Something that feels right to me may not be safe. So I listen to their input.

Well in all honesty if anyone is going on a roof without a rope they are breaking the law. OSHA regs state that if there is not a guard/hand rail at least 3ft high surrounding the edge of the roof, then you need to be tied off.

I just went an got my stuff yesterday and took a refreasher rock climbing course. I have not been cleaning windows much as of late, but gutters is a different story. Heck I love the gutter cleaning. More money per hour then windows. Anyway I used my stuff today and have to say I was NUTS for not using it last year. NUTS I tell you. Today was windy as hell here, but I was up and I felt safe as hell. Nothing like have a rope on you. I also have a pair of Korkers (roofers spikes). They are ok and take a little to get used to. But combine them with a grigri and 11mm static rope and harness and you will stand on the edge, lean out and not fear anything. I was leaning out today a good 1 ft over the edge. I would NEVER with just boots on. Last year I used rock climbing shoes and I like them better then the korkers, but with the rope. Heck all you need is boots.

BTW the whole step up with 200 ft of rope cost $290, well worth it.

Heres a pretty cool example of pitches.

Do the OSHA regulations govern one-man operations, Ray?

I could not tell you 100% but I would think regulations are regulations. The government is most likely going to blanket an industry with a code or regulation rather then go into a minutia of subcodes. For them, that would mean more work. But mainly as a 1 man operation I figure it’s better to follow the rules then find out otherwise. I have heard of 20 grand fines. I get 1 or 2 of those and I’m out of business or at least in a really hurtful position. Worse yet if I got hurt also. I look at their regs as they are there to help me. I can’t make heads or tails of much of them.

You should check before making the assumption.

OSHA is charged with ensuring employee safety.