Roof work – The Importance of Compliance by Duty Holders

May 25 2017 0comment

Roof work – The Importance of Compliance by Duty Holders

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Here at D-marc we take a very serious approach when it comes to the risks involved when working at height, whether on access equipment or on roofs.  We’re dedicated to making roofing work safer with our rooftop demarcation barrier systems and our roofwalker walkway system.  Both of these are solutions that can be used to make working on roofs less risky. 

The D-marc Roof Safety Barrier System is a free standing barrier system for use on flat roofs.  It can be used to prevent access to roof edges and to prevent access to hazards during regular rooftop maintenance activity.  The D-walk Roof Walker System is an anti-slip walkway which can be placed directly onto a flat roof in order to provide a safe access route to areas where work needs to be carried out, such as air conditioning units.  Both systems are classed as a form of Collective Protection in accordance with the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) hierarchy of risk management as set out in the Working at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR 2005).  These systems can be combined in order to provide a practical and cost effective solution for those who need to carry out maintenance or inspection work on flat roofs.

Providing safe access of this sort is the responsibility of the duty holder – whether this is the employer, building owner, building manager or construction employer.  Duty holders are responsible for:

  • Identifying and assessing all sources of risk
  • Preparing a written scheme for preventing or controlling the risk (if required by the source of the risk)
  • Implementing, managing and monitoring precautions to ensure the risk is controlled
  • Keeping records of the precautions
  • Appointing a competent person to help take the measures needed in order to comply with legislation.

We’ve come across a recent case in which two roofing contractors were fined following an investigation by the HSE into hazardous working conditions where employees were seen working on the edge of a roof without edge protection.  When concerns were raised which claimed that men were working on the roof with nothing to prevent them from falling off the edge or through the roof onto mill workers below them.  HSE inspectors discovered that not only was this the case but that the work continued in this manner during snowy weather, making the work even more hazardous. 

It transpired that the work involved replacing a light roof structure with a modern composite roof and that the roofing contractor responsible for the work subcontracted part of the project to another construction company.  This meant that two construction companies had employees working on the roof in these conditions.  Both of the construction companies were fined more than £60,000 each when they pleaded guilty to the charges in court as both had failed in their duty to protect their own workers and anybody else who could potentially be affected by the work.  According to the HSE Inspector, the risks to the workers of both companies were obvious, but neither company found it necessary to manage the work at height risks properly in order to comply with legislation.   

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