Reminds me of an Inspection I carried out this past December.
We were having extremely high temperatures in our Province (about 40 km from the Kruger National Park in South Africa) and it is a relentless, baking sun in the Southern Hemisphere - on that day probably about 48°C (118°F), and noted that there were some problems on the roof and a closer look was needed. I have almost given up roof walking - age, mobility and having some previous bad experiences - and was not wearing my “roof walking shoes”. These are shoes which have special rubber soles, and normally stick like the proverbial to an army blanket… The soles only last about 12 months and are only used on roofs. I have carried out literally thousands of roof inspections - walking - in my time (as an Insurance Assessor, doing about 10 roofs per day in peak season for 11 years) so this was nothing unusual. I work alone, and this particular dwelling was unoccupied, and reasonably isolated
Anyhow having climbed up the ladder in the most likely spot - one which won’t damage gutters or barge boards - I started up the roof. This particular roof has a pitch of 30°, and is of ribbed cement tile. Over time, I discovered, the worn-look was in fact pollution fall-out from nearby trees, plantations and dust. Having reached the ridge, I halted and tried to turn to get a view for my camera. Then it all “went South” !!!
I started slipping on the loose surface, and had to sit down to get some sort of grip - sound familiar to many of you?
Well, the surface temperature of the tiles at that time was probably closer to 65°C (149°F), and my hands and butt were starting to burn, and blister. I have particularly dry hands and skin, so the grip I was trying to gain was paltry, to say the least. Halfway down, after giving a bit of saliva and sweat from my dripping face to my palms - one at a time - I halted my downward journey. The ladder was directly below me, and the guttering was PVC - not exactly any sort of resistance to a 110kg (242lbs) load on its way down!! The saliva and sweat, having given some purchase, also formed a perfect contact to the tiles, which needless to say, was not pleasant. I then very carefully, worked my way down in this manner, as my shoes were worse than useless as a braking system. This took the best part of 20 minutes, and I was on the back section of the dwelling, overlooking a timber plantation - nice and quiet, so nobody could see my plight from the front, or the road. I could not get to my phone, as that would mean releasing one hand for a period of time, and maximum grip was all-essential.
Having reached the ladder leaning against the gutter brackets (unsecured mind you!!) I now had to swing my bulk up and over the top of the ladder to stand on the rungs - another 5 minute exercise!
I finally reached terra firma, was never more pleased than being able to sit with wobbly legs in my air conditioned car, with a half-frozen bottle of water (always travel with one in my cooler box in this weather. The ice cooled my blistered hands which were raw for the next week.
Lessons to and old fool:
- Follow the safety rules, as set out in the courses.
- Do not operate in isolated areas alone
- Get over yourself and your ego in thinking that you are still 18 - 63 is “getting on”, especially if you are unfit, overweight etc.
- Look at alternatives - I subsequently purchased a drone, and once I qualify for my RPL, I will complete the InterNachi Drone course and continue from the ground.