What to Look for in a Rooftop Demarcation Barrier System

March 23 2017 0comment

What to Look for in a Rooftop Demarcation Barrier System

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If you’re the owner or duty holder of a building with a flat roof, chances are that the roof will need to be accessed on a fairly regular basis in order to carry out inspections.  Some flat roofs are going to be in need of maintenance work now and again.  Perhaps there are other maintenance jobs that need carrying out at roof level on a regular basis.  Accessing a roof for whatever reason always carries the risk of a fall from height.  Here in the UK, falls from height remain the cause of more than a quarter of all fatal injuries in the workplace here in the UK.  This is despite the fact that accident figures have been falling steadily as a result of stringent health and safety legislation combined with effective enforcement of legislation and an increase in awareness of the risks involved when working at height.  As the owner or duty holder of a building it is your responsibility to ensure that adequate safety measures are in place when it comes to accessing the roof area of the building.

The easiest way to comply with health and safety legislation when it comes to working on a roof (whether the work being carried out is on the fabric of the roof itself or other equipment which can only be accesses via the roof) is to prevent workers from accessing high risk areas where they could be at risk from a fall from height.  The most effective safety measure is to install a post and chain demarcation barrier system that would prevent workers from getting anywhere near the edge of the roof which is the area where a fall is most likely to occur.  When choosing barrier for a flat roof, look out for the following features:

  • Ease of Installation – you may be surprised to learn that a rooftop barrier system can be installed without the need for any specific training or special equipment. 
  • Tried and Tested – make sure that the rooftop demarcation barrier you choose has been wind-tunnel tested and is able to withstand wind speeds up to 100 mph so that it can be left in situ and will stand the test of time.   Traditional demarcation barrier systems can become unstable in wind speeds of 50 mph and the Met Office figures show that the wind sometimes exceeds that speed, even in urban locations.
  • Roof Material – check that the demarcation barrier you choose can be used on the type of material that your roof is made from.  If you’re unsure, check with the roof covering manufacturer whether the system would be compatible – single ply membrane may need to have a separation layer added (sacrificial pad) between the base of the posts and the roof covering.
  • Compliance – choose a system that complies with UK legislation for strength and durability. 

A demarcation barrier system is classed as a form of Collective Protection by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and is an example of “taking other additional suitable and sufficient measures to prevent a fall” as required by the Working at Height Regulations 2005.

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