By Brett @ A-Mezz
Oftentimes, people are looking for an easier way to access their roof. They may have been using an extension ladder before, renting a bucket lift, or even pulling a truck up to the wall and climbing on the vehicle. Adding a permanently fixed roof access ladder is a great way to mitigate the cost of renting lift equipment, or increase the safety of the climber compared to using an extension ladder.
Once you’ve installed the permanent access ladder, you need to ensure that you protect yourself from having an “attractive nuisance”, or in other words, an item on your property that can be a magnet to curious kids, while at the same time providing an opportunity to cause them harm.
Generally, attractive nuisance laws start with the understanding that kids are not expected to foresee the danger all situations present. As the property owner, if there is reason to believe kids can access your property, you have a responsibility to prevent causes of potential harm. If the owner does not, the property owner could very well be held responsible for the injury to a child. Keep in mind that in many courts, kids are not just young children, but can very well be teenagers also.
What are ways to mitigate your liability? The easiest way is to be a responsible property owner. Make sure that you are following the local, state and federal laws and safety standards. Simply do what you can to prevent access to the hazard. Just as you would lock up tanks of propane so they can’t be stolen or so that kids can’t access them, you should do the same with your ladder if it is in an area accessible to kids. A simple lockable door over the rungs of your ladder can help accomplish this. Though it will not stop someone who is determined to gain access to the roof and is willing to ‘spiderman’ up the side, or pull their car up and climb up, it will help lessen your exposure to inquisitive kids, as well as add a deterrent to opportunistic thieves and vandals. Another option, if you have the room, is to fence in the area surrounding the ladder (this also works well at the bottom of stairs accessing roofs). Again, if someone is determined to partake in criminal activities they will find a way to do circumvent whatever you do, but with regards to having an “attractive nuisance” you will have helped alleviate the opportunity for accidents.