Typical Autumn Chores and Typical Serious Accidents

Autumn is rapidly approaching and with it come the typical seasonal chores of cleaning gutters and roofs, especially in our more northerly communities that have a lot of deciduous trees.

Our experience responding to and cleaning up accident sites has taught us that some seasonal chores should be left to experts because of their inherent risks and potential for deadly accidents. Attempting them yourself simply is not worth the few bucks you might save.

Climbing up on the roof with the blower to clear the roof and the gutters of dead and decaying leaves is critical if you want to protect these expensive investments and their surrounding structures and landscape. However, it’s also really dangerous. REALLY dangerous. Climbing up to the roof is probably one of the most dangerous things laymen homeowners do.

Why not climb up to the roof yourself? Because you probably do not have a fall-arrest system, a secure point to tie a safety rope, the proper ladder-safety tools, or someone to assist you.

According to the World Health Organization, over 164,000 people in the United States go to the emergency room each year after falling from a ladder and 300 of them die. Most of these deaths were from a fall of 10 feet or less.

OSHA states that “falls from portable ladders (step, straight, combination and extension) are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries.”

The Culture of Safety Web site lists the 4 primary causes of ladder accidents:

  1. Selecting the wrong kind of ladder.
  2. Using worn or damaged ladders.
  3. Using ladders incorrectly.
  4. Placing ladders incorrectly.

Falls from residential roofs, OSHA says, account for about 40 deaths a year. OSHA requires “guardrails with toeboards, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems” on steep roofs.

OHSA also recommends “a full-body harness with a shock-absorbing lanyard or retractable lifeline” anytime someone is working six feet or more above a grade or a lower level.

Imagine, then, how much more likely a fall from a ladder or roof is for a layman, who probably has none of this equipment or knowledge?

Not long ago, we responded to a call from a client whose husband nearly died cleaning the gutters of their home. An ex-rock climber, he believed he had taken the utmost precautions before climbing to their steeply pitched roof. He was wearing an old climbing harness. This is not the full-body harness required by OSHA, attached to an old rope from his youth as a rock climber. He had tied one end of the rope to his harness and the other end to the trailer hitch of his pickup truck. This was parked in the driveway on the other side of the roof and facing the street. His teenage son was leaving for work, but his car was blocked by his dad’s truck, so, not noticing the rope attached to the trailer hitch and trailing across the roof, he moved the truck to the street, dragging his dad off the roof and hurling him onto the concrete driveway 15 feet below. He was then dragged the length of the driveway to the street and taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Please consider hiring a professional gutter-cleaning company that is both insured and experienced and who does its own work rather than using subcontractors.

Please also be aware that insurance carriers offer coverage to companies based on their specific activities. Companies whose workers use ladders and work on roofs pay a higher premium for added coverage. That means a landscaper or handyman who says he also cleans gutters might not be covered by his insurer for falling from a ladder or roof, and you and your homeowner insurance company are immediately liable and open to a nasty and costly law suit should an accident happen.

Allowing a friend or neighbor to clean you gutters presents an even bigger risk – and a great way to damage or end a friendship. The neighbor is probably neither insured for ladder usage nor experienced, and should an accident occur, you and your homeowner insurance company are fully liable and wide-open to a law suit.


We are Advanced Bio Treatment, and we care about the communities we serve. We want to help you protect yourself and those you love. Should you need our services, please call us at 800-295-1684. We give free quotes, provide emergency services, work with your insurance company, and respond 24/7/365.






Ted Pelot Owner & President of Crime Scene Cleanup Company - Advanced Bio-Treatment