When it comes to protecting people on your roofs, you may think it’s common sense not to walk along pipework by the edge of the roof, or not to use a ladder if the rungs or feet are damaged, but what seems obvious to some, may not be so obvious to others.
Here are our Top 5 areas that we think you should think about when it comes to roof safety.
Is the roof strong enough to support a person’s weight as well as any equipment they may need to take onto the roof? This may seem a basic point but falls through fragile roofs or materials are one of the main causes of fall from height fatalities. Fragile roofs are common features of manufacturing and industrial facilities so if the roof is fragile, or has rooflights/skylights on it, you must make sure anyone accessing the roof is aware of this.
There is a wide range of products available that have been designed specifically to protect people working on or near fragile roofs. For example,
- portable roof walkways or mobile frames provide a safe working platform for users carrying out short term maintenance work.
- Modular mesh panels or freestanding guardrail systems can provide effective protection over skylights and rooflights.
Accessing a roof safely
Access to a roof tends to be through a doorway, up a ladder or through a roof access hatch. Whichever way people access you roof, you need to make sure it’s properly lit and free from obstructions.
If people need to use a ladder, is it fit for purpose, are any of the rungs damaged or loose and are the stiles intact?
Protecting unprotected edges
Are people actually safe once on your roof? There’s no point protecting people as they get onto a roof if once up there they’re at risks.
Typical areas to think about include:
- Roof Hatches – make sure these are a safe distance from the leading edge. You don’t want someone accessing a roof through a hatch and then finding they’re immediately by a fall risk. If you think the roof access hatch is too close to or opens up to the leading edge, take appropriate steps to protect people using it such as by installing guardrail with a self-closing safety gate around the hatch area.
- Ladders Access – if people are accessing the roof via a ladder, are they protected as they get off the ladder onto the roof? By simply installing guardrail either side of the ladder, you can provide the user with safe access from the ladder to the roof.
- Parapet Walls – these should be a minimum of 950mm high. If the parapet isn’t high enough, consider installing a fixed guardrail to the parapet or simply install freestanding guardrail to prevent access to the leading edge.
Today’s roofs are a complex mix, often featuring changes in level or equipment such as pipes and vents. All these can be trip hazards or make it difficult to navigate safely around the roof area.
Access platforms and stepovers are a simple yet effective way to provide safe passage around a roof area.
Training and competency
Finally, but probably the most important point, is training and competency. Always make sure the person accessing your roof is properly trained and competent to carry out the work. If you let someone onto your roof who has not been trained, they are a hazard to themselves and others.
Never go on what the person tells you. Ask to see appropriate training certificates and always check that they have carried out a risk assessment of the work before letting anyone carry out work on your roof.
If in doubt
The areas covered here are simply a guide on the type of things you should think about when letting employees or contractors onto your roofs and are by no means a comprehensive list of safety measures. If you are ever unsure about your roof safety, or how to work safely at height, speak to an expert.
Call our product experts on Tel: 046 92 4177 to discuss how we can help you protect your roofs.