A roof ladder is a ladder which is designed to attach to a roof at the peak, providing access to the roof for the purpose of inspecting it, making repairs, or replacing it. These ladders are generally designed to be put in place when they are needed, rather than being left in place for permanent access, although on some structures, a roof ladder may be permanently installed. There are a number of important safety precautions to observe when using a roof ladder, as a fall from this type of ladder can be especially dangerous.
Roof ladders are basic straight ladders with hooks attached. The hooks loop over the peak of the roof. Some companies make separate hooks which can be used to convert a regular ladder into a roof ladder; the hooks clamp or bolt on, with an S-shaped design which attaches to both the roof and a rung on the ladder for additional stabilization.
The roof ladder can be further secured by tying it to a solid object which can be used for an anchor. This prevents a loop from loosening its grip as the ladder is rocked and shifted, allowing people to move on and around the ladder more comfortably. For additional safety, workers on a roof can wear safety harnesses so that if they fall or the ladder fails, the harness will catch them before they hit the ground and become seriously injured. Harnesses may be required by law in some regions for certain types of jobs, and when they are not required, they are still a very good idea, especially on steep roofs.
Roof ladders are designed to be used with a separate access ladder. The access ladder allows people to get from the ground to the roof. Access ladders come in a variety of styles, including extension and A-frame ladders. The extension ladder should be placed as close to the roof ladder as possible, allowing a climber to transfer between ladders rather than having to walk on the roof. Walking on the roof can be dangerous because it may increase the risk of a fall, and if the roof is under repair, it is possible for a walker to damage the roof by stepping in the wrong spot.
In addition to a roof ladder, other types of supports and walking aids can be placed on a roof so that people can work on the roof without coming into direct contact with the roofing. As projects are completed, supports can be removed or repositioned to access new areas of the roof.