Annual Maintenance of Rooftop Barrier Systems
With so many flat roofed buildings here in the UK, especially in the commercial and industrial sector, installing a rooftop barrier system has become a necessity for business owners and building managers. Installing a safety barrier to prevent access to the edge of the roof is especially important on buildings where roof access is necessary for the regular maintenance of plant and equipment. However, it’s not just the rooftop plant and equipment that needs to be inspected and maintained – if roof edge barrier systems have been installed, it’s vital that these are also inspected and maintained on a regular basis to ensure they have not become damaged and are still fit for purpose, providing an adequate level of safety for those who have to carry out work on the flat roof.
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR2005) state that the duty holder is responsible for ensuring that the legal obligation to inspect and maintain the equipment used for work at height and rooftop barrier systems are deemed to be equipment used for work at height. The WAHR2005 include Schedules giving requirements for existing places of work and means of access for work at height, collective fall protection (which includes rooftop barrier systems), collective fall arrest, personal fall protection and ladders.
Regulation 5: Maintenance states that the workplace and any equipment, devices and systems must be maintained in efficient working order. This includes guardrails, equipment for window cleaning and anchorage points/systems for safety harnesses. As a general recommendation, all guardrails and other rooftop safety solutions should be inspected and certified at least on an annual basis to ensure that they are still safe to use. These inspections should be carried out by a competent person and records kept to ensure compliance. The Regulations build on the general duty of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 that requires all work equipment to be maintained so that it’s safe for use and we recommend that any work at height equipment (including rooftop barrier systems) should undergo rigorous testing which includes, where relevant, visual, functional checks and testing.
It is an employer’s or duty holder’s responsibility to provide information, instruction and training on the risks, use, maintenance, cleaning and replacement of such equipment. It’s a requirement under PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) that the risks to people’s health from the equipment they use at work are prevented or controlled.
HSG 33 addresses the main problems associated with falls from height including falls through fragile materials and from unprotected roof edges. The guidance is aimed at anyone planning, arranging or supervising roof work or work on roofs and covers new buildings, repair, maintenance, cleaning work and demolition. The guidance is designed to promote roof safety by helping to identify the main cause of accidents and ill health and explain how to eliminate the risks associated with roof work. Another way to prevent accidents from happening is by having a demarcation barrier for flat roof as they can be placed around the work site to indicate the border so workers don’t go further.