British Standards for Roof Ladders are Coming
You may be surprised to learn that there is currently no British Standard for roof ladders here in the UK. This is despite the fact that a fall from height remains the number one cause of fatalities in the workplace in Britain. We have such stringent health and safety at work legislation in the UK that it may come as a shock to learn that a British Standard for roof ladders just doesn’t exist. However, we’re hoping that this situation will be rectified in the not too distant future as the Ladder Association and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is working towards producing such a standard.
Working on a roof is a dangerous undertaking, especially if you neglect to take all of the necessary precautions. These precautions include (but are not limited to) ladder inspections and risk assessments. Falls from heights account for the majority of the workplace fatalities and serious injuries here in the UK construction industry and roofers are involved in 24% of all these fatalities.
While there are no British or European standards that are relevant for roof ladders, it’s hoped that the development of a British Standard would lead the way and would soon be followed by a European Standard. Apparently one of the most commonly asked questions during ladder safety training courses is why are there no standards relating to roof ladders so it’s pretty obvious that there is a requirement for this standard to be developed.
The roof tiling market has been showing some impressive growth over the past few years, driven by the new housebuilding market. In the short term, the roof tiling market is set to continue to grow in the next few years as the number of house building projects is predicted to rise in 2016 and 2017.
The Work at Height Regulations of 2005 (WAHR 2005) require that in cases where it’s not possible to keep a constant hold on a roof ladder, special measures should be taken. This has led to an increase in the use of personal fall protection equipment (PPE) when using roof ladders which has highlighted potential weaknesses in the current designs for roof ladders. The new product standard will aim to address these issues in a bid to reduce the risk of fatalities and injuries resulting from falls from height when using roof ladders. Developing such standards will bring roof ladders in line with other types of ladder at last which can only lead to improvements in the health and safety statistics for the construction industry, particularly the roofing sector.
The standard will be used by ladder manufacturers, health and safety professionals, product testing organisations, training bodies, trading standards officers, health and safety regulators and those with duties under the regulations to specify and provide suitable work equipment that is fit for the task at hand.
Work on the new standard will commence early this year and the Ladder Association and HSE will collaborate with participating organisations from the major roof ladder user groups, the construction industry and the satellite dish installation industry.