Tips for Working at Height on Roofs
Working on a roof is a dangerous undertaking because any fall from a roof is bound to involve a serious injury at the very least. In worse case scenarios, falling from or through a fragile roof can result in fatalities. However long working on the roof is likely to take, even if it is just a short, ten minute job, safety needs to be the prime consideration at all times. This means safety when accessing the roof as well as safety when carrying out the work planned.
SMEs make up so many of the UK’s construction companies and the employer is directly responsible for the health and safety or all employees. This responsibility must be taken seriously at all times and the employer has a duty of care to all employees which includes providing the right equipment, correct training and ensuring that all jobs are planned to minimise the risks involved. When it comes to roof work, minimising the risks is essential before any work is undertaken.
Here are some top tips that those who employ builders and construction workers can use when undertaking work on roofs.
- All roof work needs scaffolding, even domestic roof work and edge protection should be installed in order to prevent people and materials from falling from gable ends and eaves. The most effective type of edge protection is a highly visible demarcation barrier installed at least 2 metres from the edge of the roof.
- Scaffolding or demarcation barriers should also be installed around chimneys and roof windows (otherwise known as skylights or roof lights).
- On terraced properties, scaffolding will need to be installed both at the front and rear of the building.
- Never be tempted to “bomb” – this means throwing materials from the roof or the scaffolding. A chute should be used in order to move materials and rubbish to ground level.
- Make sure that materials and debris cannot fall from the roof onto the street and people below. Use debris netting sheeting and/or close fitting scaffolding boards.
- Make sure that passers-by and other people are kept well away from the area below any roof work that is being carried out.
- Ladders can be used to access the workplace but working from a ladder should only be allowed as a last resort.
- Do not go (or allow others to go) onto fragile roof surfaces such as cement sheeting or roofs with skylights. Plan to work on the roof from underneath instead if possible, use a work access platform or cover fragile areas of the roof.
- Make sure that anybody carrying out work on a roof is properly trained and competent to carry out the work in a safe manner.
Falls from a height remain one of the biggest cause of serious injury or death in the workplace here in the UK and the onus is always on the employer to ensure that best practise and safe working methods are carried out at all times. We rightly have strict health and safety in the workplace legislation that is designed to minimise risks and ensure that Britain is one of the safest places to work in. Stay safe at heights with our roof safety barrier for flat roof demarcation, which is better than roof edge demarcation. Complying with this legislation is vital in order to save lives and prevent injuries.