Guardrail vs Harness


I just got my license in Northern CA. I’ve only used harnesses and roofjacks/slide protection. I’ll be doing residential re-roofs. Mostly houses less than 20 SQ. I’m considering investing in complete perimeter guardrails. Does anybody have any experience with these? I’m concerned about wasted time moving them around between tear-off, underlayment, and shingles. Thanks guys.


I am south of you and we use ropes and harnesses mostly.
The bulk of our work is residential re roofing using standing seam or stone coated steel. I have not found a guardrail system that would work on all roofs. You need to have an eave…some homes don’t and some have boxed eaves. Systems out there would work for 65% of what we do but i am still back to ropes on the rest. Hugs for example, i like the idea but again no eaves or boxed eaves they don’t work… and we seem to do a lot of boxed or very small eave jobs that this system wouldn’t work on.


I was thinking of using this type by Arco. They have a rake guardrail also. I’d be nervous having anybody drive a bunch of nails through the sheathing in order to attach these on an open soffit. I’d be worried they’d miss and leave a blown out section of soffit.


They’ll change the laws at some point and require harnesses with those anyway. I would need to still be harnessed on that, but I’m in Canada.
We have to wear harnesses on scaffolding if we’re on the 2nd frame, even with guard rails.


Good point. They seem like a lot of extra expense as far as time and money go. Thanks.


If you are in an area with a heavy OSHA presence you may want to find another business to be in.

Smaller companies frequently go out of business after an OSHA visit.

OSHA gives very large fines for minor stuff.

In roofing you are out of compliance when setting up your OSHA compliant safety devices.


Axiom is right!
I want them all to go to hell and worse.
They have harrased everyone in my area.
Nobody gets away.
When they pull up and identify themselves,
You are fined. Heavy unreasonable fines.
They try to make you feel better by cutting the fine in half.
So then you make large payments monthly to them forever to continue working.
Obama turned roofers and countless other construction trades into criminals through the federal regulatory.
Hes a piece of shit.


They’re so aggressive here in southern Ontario, most new work is done out of lifts. Big outfits use 8 or 10 man crews so limit time at any job, minimizing risk of a showup.
Buddy of mine got a $700 fine for not wearing a hardhat on a reroofes.


I priced out 40 of the Hugs with the Hawaii mount for re-roofing this morning and it was $5,100 not counting all the 2x4 and 2x6. Multiply that buy the 4 - 6 jobs we having going on and its a substantial investment. Not to mention that 40 is a small roof - 320’ of perimeter. Factor in the time it takes to set it up and break it down and i think its a wash. The ropes do slow us down but as the crews get used to using them they will become more efficient making the huge investment of any rail system unnecessary imo. I have abandoned the idea of a guard rail set up…we will continue to just use ropes. This is probably why you do not ever see residential roofing in SO Cal using these systems. I do however see them on new construction project work, but not SFD.

A couple other factors is we are not always doing 4-6 roofs at a time, there will be slow weeks. No place to store that lumber or the Hugs themselves.

I’m looking into it because we have a 72 sq project starting soon and the scaffolding bill alone is $35k. Granted it is mostly two story but, it has a 5 story section that is most likely why the bill is so high. I was thinking i could buy Hugs for example and own the product. Owning doesn’t really help me when the ropes work fine at a fraction of the cost…just takes time to develop a new system of working when using them and varying crew sizes.

We are going to stick with ropes at this point but i will keep my eyes open for a better solution.

Also looking into it due to a fall incidence we had. Had the guy been wearing his FP like he was suppose to he wouldn’t have fallen. I was looking into engineering controls to eliminate the chances of a guy not following the rules. Its not like you can “forget” to wear your guardrail.


I dont have too much respect for people giving advice who dont actually do this work.


I have more installation experience than most of the crews that work at the same company i do. Not sure why you think i dont install.


I’m Sorry for disrespecting you.
I Must have had a bad day…
Touchy subject for me…


No worries…I have been known to have a few bad days also.

If it were up to me id use the hugs, this would work for a good portion of what we do but still wouldn’t cover all bases. I don’t write the checks but i can give my input.


Those Hugs look great for new construction. I think a homeowner would flip-out if i was nailing into their rafter tails though.


The more research I do they say harnesses should be the last resort, because OSHA states that when using that type of fall protection, you need a “ job specific rescue plan”