Walking the roof

Not sure if I should post this as a survey. Let’s try a thread. I would like to collect home inspection ladder fall stories. For example:

I know 6 inspectors who have fallen in 5 years. All serious injury.

The point of my post is to find out if our Stadnards are enticing inspectors to go above and beyond. I know I have done many ladder pulls and steep pitches myself. Just trying to determine where the consumers rights and the inspectors life cross path.

John…there have been several threads here related to ladder falls over the last couple of years. One that comes to mind is David Valley awhile back. Take a look at this thread and follow post #3 for details of David’s fall. You may have to log in a 2nd time as David’s story is archived on the old board.

Try: http://www.nachi.org/forum/showthread.php?t=2552&highlight=ladder+fall

I have seen Gerry Beaumont comment on this topic as well, perhaps he will chime in.

Great. Also just got two more private emails. One San Antonio inspector found in pool of cranial blood and an Austin inspector who broke leg.

When working on ladders every day you should be required to take a climbing course.
I had to take a few of them while working for communication companies.
There is a right way and a wrong way.
Why people do not use fiberglass claw ladders is beyond me.
Talk about Little Giant all you want.
I will take a non electric conducting , claw base to eliminate slippage everyday.
My hooks help even more.

Yes, you’re right, I had forgotten about that. It was just a fews weeks ago, right?

And, of course, this classic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjoCeL-f8Mk

It was recent; not sure when. A guy we both know (RS) fell off a ladder in his yard and broke both arms last year.

This list is building fast.

I have been climbing roofs for 25 years. I have taken some wild chances. I know its important but I also know it is a very personal decision and I do not endorse any rule saying the inspector must walk the roof. NACHI SoP are properly written on that.


Rumor has it Gil C. also an SEorPE TREC inspector had a bad spill and broke his leg, this has been a few years back.

Both of mine took place before I started inspecting but a shattered patella-knee cap and cracked clavicle-collar bone have both cost me more then just the loss of earned income over the years.

Everyone be safe out there.

I remember that. It was “bad”.

Tough issue-just about every time I walk one something is found that would not have been found with bino’s. Then again, just like walking the joists in the attic, very careful. But if there’s any question of safety, forget it. Not worth an injury.

A few years back an inspector in Illinois was killed in a single story fall, don’t know if it was from the ladder or roof. Likely, his thought as he rolled up was “Ha, a ranch. Piece of cake…”.

The hard part is we all want to do a good job. Most of the time when I have overstepped, I decide I have been stupid and shouldn’t have climbed on the roof AFTER I am on it and contemplating getting back onto the ladder on my way down. Getting down is always harder than getting up.

Years ago I had the unforgettable experience of climbing onto one I shouldn’t have, and sliding back down. I caught the ladder and made it down safely. The memory of that experience is generally enough to make me cautious.

I tell people flat out that I do not get on all roofs and that I will not tell them for sure until I personally see the house. I lose the occasional inspection because of it. Have had one guy get really mad. After I showed up, he questioned whether I would get on it - two story 10/12 type pitch (but did have lots of valleys). I said no I would not walk his roof. He flipped. Yelled at me that the neighbor had an inspector that did. I calmly told him to call that guy and walked out.

I will always put MY safety and the good of my family ahead of walking the roof.

Bob, you mentioned a ladder course that you took. Maybe you could share some techniques to help keep us all safer. I watched Michael’s you tube clip several times and then saw that the guy that fell went down two rungs at once. That might cause a fall on any type of ladder.

A few years ago I fell off a roof due to the ladder slipping out from under me.
The reason was due to a slippery deck. I was extremely lucky as I didn’t even get a scrape from falling. Just a bruised ego and a lessoned learned.

No ladders on decks.

I know Dave Valley had a bad fall a few years ago.

Bob, you mentioned a ladder course that you took. Maybe you could share some techniques to help keep us all safer.


OSHA Rules


Bob, you mentioned a ladder course that you took. Maybe you could share some techniques to help keep us all safer.

Thanks for the information Barry, I like the way it is broken down and a possible tool for me to use with the employees.

I have to abide by those rules on a daily basis.

Thanks again.

Marcel :slight_smile: :smiley:

Back when I ran commercial crews we had weekly safety meetings, each employee had to do a presentation of correct techniques for a particular tool… I found employee interaction and presentations kept at least some of them on the toes. Also had a points program for infractions while I walked the site. NO points for a month and your name went into a pool for an early pass (go home at noon with pay) on Friday.

I rarely walk on roofs. You must always wear leather shoes. One of the main reasons workers fall while stepping down is that flexible shoes will give way under pressure, and will flex. Leather shoes have less flex, and are more stable to use. Most guys who walk on roofs use atheletic shoes to get traction, and then fall on the way down from a ladder due to the flex in the shoes.

Basicly you want a ladder that does not conduct electriciy.
Laugh all you want but I have been shocked buy simple things like gutters in the past, and the source may not be seen right away.

Also angle is important
Stand facing the ladder with your feet on @ side and the base of your big toes touching the front corners of the ladder.

Now grasping both rails at shoulder height hold your arms staight out in front of you , and pull the ladder back in to where your elboes bend just a little.
That is the perfect angle to keep the ladder from slipping.

If you have no hooks or claws , bring a rope and tie it to one rung and the other end to something solid in front of you for extra security when going high.

Remember to put at least two or three rungs past the top of the Gutter , so you have something to grab on to as you come back down.

Never thank G-D fell off my ladder in all these years.

One reason some folks fall is the ladder does not extend far enough up past the roof edge to safely get on and get off the ladder at the top. I always try to find a spot where there are intersecting walls to help stabilize the ladder and provide adequate footings. i. e. in the crotch of a valley, especially on steeper roofs. I wear a particular boot not necessarily made for roof crawling but has a very flat but rough textured crepe sole. This gives me maximum sole to roof contact and does not slide at all even on damp roofs, plus it does not “smudge” the shingles when you walk on them. They are extremely lightweight and thin so I can feel with my foot. I typically put these on just prior to going on a roof and right after I get off. After enough practice you should get a gut feeling when you should not venture up onto a roof. I call it my “pucker string factor”. When I feel my pucker string being pulled I do not go on the roof. Coincidentally, the only time I got the **** scared out of me on a roof, it was not even very high pitched, but was slippery and damp with a lot of black sooty material on it and was only one story but very high over a carport. I ended up sitting down and scooting across the roof while the cheeks of my butt involuntarily gripped and walked the roof. I ended up just throwing those skivvies away rather than try to laundry them. Here again the ladder was maxed out at the edge. My legs were shaking like a puppy trying to pass a peach seed for most of the morning. I never forgot that lesson or experience.


Thanks for bringing back the bad memories of my roof fall. To this day, I’m still in pain on a daily basis (w/ no meds) and I will limp for the rest of my life due to this mishap.

Due to the fact that I love heights (U.S Army Airborne Ranger in the early eighties), I’m still walking roofs to this day.

Here’s a nice view from a roof inspection I did in Boston, last month…

For those of you who feel brave when inspecting roofs and feel that they do not need to secure their ladders at the base, I’ve got some pictures I would like to share with you. Maybe these pics will help some of you take a safer approach at inspecting roofs. If you have a weak stomach, these pictures may not be for you.

Here’s my leg after surgery…

“Click to Enlarge”

And here’s what my leg looked like after the stitches were removed…