Falls from Height are not the Only Risk for Roofing Contractors
Working on a roof is dangerous, that’s a fact – it’s why we have such stringent health and safety legislation on health and safety in the workplace here in the UK. Whilst falls from height still account for the majority of the fatalities and life changing injuries, a fall is not the only hazard to take into account when it comes to roofing work and construction work in general. In the roofing industry, we tend to focus on falls from height as this is an obvious danger that we all need to be aware of. Today we’re going to take a look at two of the other most common risks involved in order to raise awareness so that our readers are kept fully informed of the dangers and health risks in order to take the necessary measures to avoid them where possible.
DANGEROUS DUSTS – this is a serious hazard for roofing contractors who could potentially be exposed to different types of harmful dusts as they work. Historic exposure to asbestos dust is one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in Britain – around 4.500 deaths occur each year because asbestos was a common material used in building activities for such a long time since the large scale asbestos industry began in the mid-19th Century.
The use of asbestos had become widespread by the beginning of the 20th Century, with a range of applications which included fire retardant coatings, concrete, bricks, piping and fireplace cements, to name but a few. In 2011, it was revealed that more than 50% of the UK housing stock still contained asbestos despite a total ban on the use of asbestos in the UK in 1999. This has serious implications for roofing contractors and others working in the wider construction sector on repairs and refurbishment projects as it is highly likely that they will encounter asbestos containing materials (ACMs) during their day to day work.
All types of asbestos fibres can cause serious health issues, though amosite and crocidolite are deemed the most dangerous. Past exposure to asbestos is still causing problems for workers and their family members – this really is the “gift that keeps on giving”! Luckily, nowadays the discovery of asbestos during repairs, refurbishment and demolition activities requires that the asbestos material has to be removed and disposed of by a licensed hazardous waste expert in accordance with The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Failure to do so will result in heavy fines under the sentencing guidelines brought into effect in February, 2016.
LIFTING AND MANUAL HANDLING – roofing work can involve the need to move heavy loads to roof level in order to carry out the work. These loads may comprise tools, roof tiles and other materials, such as mortar. While it may be tempting to demonstrate our strength by carrying large loads, this is strenuous work that should be automated if possible. If automation is not feasible, it’s recommended that loads are split into several lighter loads in order to reduce the risk of damage associated with unsafe handling practices – such as musculoskeletal disorders like back and shoulder pain or repetitive strain injuries (RSI). Don’t be tempted to show off your strength when moving tools and materials – there’s nothing big or clever about injuring yourself unnecessarily!