Choosing the Right Rooftop Demarcation Barrier System

June 12 2018 0comment

Choosing the Right Rooftop Demarcation Barrier System

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Whether you’re the owner or the duty holder of a building that features a flat roof (as so many industrial and commercial premises do), it’s highly likely that regular access to the roof is required.  This may be for rooftop inspection purposes to check that the roof is well-maintained and in good repair, or it could be that work is regularly carried out on the roof on machinery and equipment like cooling or air conditioning systems.  Accessing a roof for whatever reason always carries the risk of a fall from height.  Here in the UK, falls from height are responsible for more than a quarter of all fatal injuries in the workplace, despite the fact that accident figures have been falling steadily as a result of stringent health and safety legislation combined with effective enforcement of legislation and an increase in awareness of the risks involved when working at height. 

As the owner or duty holder of a building it is your responsibility to ensure that adequate safety measures are in place when it comes to accessing the roof area of the building. When looking for methods of complying with health and safety legislation for working at height, preventing workers from accessing high risk areas is essential.  This can be done by installing a post and chain demarcation barrier system that prevents workers from getting close to the edge of the roof, which is the area where a fall from height is most likely to occur. 

When choosing a demarcation barrier for use on a flat roof, the following features should be considered:

  • Compliance – choose a system that complies with UK legislation for strength and durability – this should be the most important consideration. 
  • Ease of Installation – you may be surprised to learn that a rooftop barrier system can be installed without the need for any specific training or special equipment. 
  • Tried and Tested – make sure that the rooftop demarcation barrier you choose has been wind-tunnel tested and is able to withstand wind speeds up to 100 mph so that it can be left in situ and will stand the test of time.   Traditional demarcation barrier systems can become unstable in wind speeds of 50 mph and the Met Office figures show that the wind sometimes exceeds that speed, even in urban locations.
  • Compatible with Roof Material – check that the demarcation barrier you choose can be used on the type of material that your roof is made from.  If you’re unsure, check with the roof covering manufacturer whether the system would be compatible – single ply membrane may need to have a separation layer added (sacrificial pad) between the base of the posts and the roof covering.

A demarcation barrier system is classed as a form of Collective Protection by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and is an example of “taking other additional suitable and sufficient measures to prevent a fall” as required by the Working at Height Regulations 2005.

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