Salt of Summit County
January 27, 2009
Everyone knows to watch their footing after heavy snowfall makes walkways slippery. Falling on a hip or elbow can cause serious injury and even missed work. But what if you walk on roofs for a living?
Justin Marshall with On Top Roofing is a professional rooftop snow remover. After storms, he and his coworkers climb atop homes and buildings to prevent snow and icicles from falling on people below or ice dams forming, forcing water down through leaks in the roof.
It’s cold work, but all Marshall has to do to feel warmer is remember how hot it is going to be nailing shingles in July.
Winter or summer, Marshall is a roof expert. It’s where he spends his days. He understands their designs, structures and materials, and this helps him stay safe.
Few things are crazier than climbing on top of a slippery roof, but the way to stay safe is to install an anchor.
Work crews always consist of at least two men; no one climbs a ladder, let alone a roof, alone. On a new client’s home, a man will find the highest point on the roof, climb slowly to it, clear away snow, and nail or screw an anchor to it. The two workers then connect ropes and harnesses to it, making sure the lanyard’s length is shorter than the edge of the roof.
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It’s not a scary job to Marshall. People who are afraid of heights generally don’t go into roofing, he said. But it is fraught with risk, which is why he recommends calling a professional anytime rooftop work needs to be done including hanging holiday lights.
"Seeing people fall, even just the thought of people falling, it makes you be safer at what you do," he said.
Ice removal isn’t brain surgery. The tools required are hammers and axes. Marshall and his crew hack away the ice to make sure it doesn’t cause trouble in warmer weather as it melts.
Marshall knows the dangers first hand. While he was clearing ice from a metal porch roof a few years ago, the entire slab of ice slipped out from under him, crashing to the ground and sending him head over heels.
"I put a lot of trust in my rope and harness," he said.
The inherent risks put responsibility on the two workers to look out for one another and point out trouble spots.
"Four eyes are always better than two," he said. "There’s a lot of trust involved. We like to get the job done as quickly as possible."
What’s the best part of being a roof professional? You have the best views of Park City anywhere.
"There’s times when I stop what I’m doing and just have to take a look at the mountains. I see wildlife every day," he said.