Roofing Remover

A roofing remover uses pneumatic power to remove roofing materials and is operated while standing.


A roofing remover is an engineering control that may reduce the amount of stooped or kneeling postures and minimizes stressful hand and wrist activity.  It is pushed along a roof where it slides underneath old roofing materials.  The pneumatic mechanism applies an upward force to remove the roofing.  This eliminates hammering a pry bar under the material being removed, reducing stressful hand and wrist activity as well as stooping or kneeling.

A roofing remover, such as the Rapid Roof Remover, is controlled by two handles that extend to approximately waist height (Figure 1).  After the 30-inch blade is wedged under roofing materials, a trigger is activated which delivers an upward force removing the roofing materials.  A roofing remover is then pushed forward to remove more roofing material until all of the desired materials are removed.  A roofing remover can be adjusted to accommodate different pitches of roofs and is powered by an air compressor.

Figure 1. Roofing Remover (Photo courtesy of JKN Enterprises of WCH LLC)

Risks Addressed:

Stooped or kneeling posture and stressful hand and wrist activity can lead to various musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).   Stooped postures can cause low back disorders, such as muscle strain or a disc herniation (“slipped disc”).  

Prolonged kneeling can cause prepatellar bursitis, which is swelling on the front of the kneecap.   Prolonged kneeling and squatting can also cause osteoarthritis of the knee (degenerative joint disease).

Stressful hand & wrist activity can cause muscle strains; tendonitis, which is inflammation of elbow and wrist tendons; or carpal tunnel syndrome, which is compression of a wrist nerve, resulting in finger numbness and loss of hand strength.

A roofing remover reduces the risks of MSDs associated stressful hand and wrist activity and stooped or kneeling postures because the machine eliminates hammering and can be operated from an upright position.

How Risks are Reduced:

A Rapid Roof Remover is operated in standing and minimizes kneeling and stooping while removing roofing material.  Additionally, a Rapid Roof Remover eliminates using pry bar, which can be stressful to the hand and wrist.

The manufacturer believes that a Rapid Roof Remover makes it easier for the worker.  In fact, the manufacturer states, “With a blade width of 30 inches, this machine will drastically reduce the back-breaking labor of removing existing material.”

While there is no research specifically looking at a roofing remover, there is ample evidence that low back disorders are associated with stooping and kneeling (Bernard, 1997; Spielholz, 2006).  Research has shown that workers who spend more time in stooped posture or other awkward back postures are at a higher risk for developing low back problems.  Additionally, research has shown that stressful hand and wrist activity (e.g. using a pry bar) increases the likelihood of tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome (Bernard, 1997).

Safety and health experts believe that a roofing remover require less demand on the worker because it eliminates kneeling, stooping, and stressful hand and wrist activities. 

Effects on Productivity:

A roofing remover increases productivity on the worksite.

Additional Considerations:

Repeated use of a roofing remover may lead to hand arm vibration.  Hand arm vibration can cause muscle strains; tendonitis, which is inflammation of elbow and wrist tendons; or carpal tunnel syndrome, which is compression of a wrist nerve, resulting in finger numbness and loss of hand strength. This tool also adds the hazards associated with use of a pneumatic tool: excessive noise from the compressor,  higher risk of eye injury from flying debris.


Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC; and Kevin Wright, SPT – Eastern Washington University

Hazards Addressed:


Rapid Roof Remover
To obtain information, visit or contact 1-740-335-3443

Return on Investment

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