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How NOT to Access Roof Spaces

Health and safety should be the paramount concern for all businesses, whether they are a fresh start-up, or an established industry leader, not just to appease the strict regulations set by governing bodies, but as a duty of care for the employees that use and operate safe work systems daily. While working with a new client, to provide bespoke working at height systems for their premises, we uncovered some worrying information about a previous roof access system installed by another working at height company.

A Recent Example

As illustrated in the images below, the client required a system that would allow a safe route for their workforce to reach the roof of a taller building, and to be able to work safely once atop. Our client disclosed to us that their previous system, provided by another firm in the working at height industry, consisted of using a short survey ladder to reach the top of the lower roof, before using a large survey ladder resting upon a small metal bracket to reach the higher roof, only then attaching themselves to the mansafe system. This transition means that the operator would have to dismount the ladder, at a great height, and manoeuvre themselves onto the roof without being attached to any safety line or system.

This system was a genuine danger to the operators using it, considering the substantial 20m drop in the very likely event that the ladder slips or shifts while the workforce is in transit. Additionally, the process of using two ladders to reach the top of a roof is incredibly inefficient to business requirements, not only putting the workforce in unnecessary danger but requiring a substantial amount of wasted time to complete the roof transit. Moreover, if this system was used in the time after rainfall or during high winds, it’s almost sure to result in a completely preventable accident. Needless to say, this ‘system’ goes against all Work at Height regulations, leaving both the supplier and the client liable and in danger of prosecution.

While we understand that the shape and positioning of the two buildings create the need for a bespoke solution, that solution cannot be improvised with such a rudimentary resolution. As a solution for our new client, we have utilised a truck-mounted cherry picker to reach the height required safely and efficiently. To remove the need for an annual cherry picker visit, we are locating an optimal place to install fixed access ladders on each block to create a safe and secure route for operators to scale the buildings safely, efficiently and comply with Work at Height regulations.

Unsafe Work at Height System

Unsafe Work at Height System

Worrying Statistics

Sadly, this case is just one example in a long line of irresponsible systems used across the country every day. According to statistics from Health and Safety Executive (HSE), falls from height are the leading cause of fatal injuries in the workplace, with falls from ladders accounting for the majority of falls from height, across almost every industry. In fact, in construction, ladders are attributed with more falls from height than scaffolding. Between the months of April and December in 2019, there was a total of 116 fatal injuries in the workplace, a terrifying figure and one that could be far lower if the correct solutions were sought out as soon as an obstacle or issue appeared.

With such worrisome statistics in circulation, businesses must review their working at height systems, identifying aspects that require a superior, safer solution for the wellbeing of their workforce, and contractors to remain compliant with governing bodies.

Heightsafe is fully committed to providing bespoke and niche solutions for any working at height situation. Our solutions have revolutionised work at height systems for over 12,000 clients across over 14,000 projects, including the installation of systems for Transport for London, Chester Zoo, Manchester United and many, many more. If you think your company needs a new work at height solution or associated training in using your systems safely, you can contact our specialists now by clicking here.


Source: HSE

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