Falls from height are still the biggest killer in the workplace, and also cause hundreds of serious injuries every year. For these reasons, it is essential to have the legal fall arrest systems and equipment in place so that we can start to bring these figures down. Nearly half of these deaths and injuries occur when workers are on roofs, and a fall of this kind is likely to lead to serious injury at the very least. Because all roof work is considered high risk, it should be avoided wherever possible and an alternative solution found, such as using a platform.
Nevertheless, where this cannot be avoided, it is vital to have the necessary height safety equipment in place. For heights over 2m, edge protection systems must be employed, including a minimum legal requirement of a guardrail at least 910mm above the edge, a toe board of at least 150mm height, and an intermediate barrier so that there is no gap of more than 470mm. The latter is to ensure that if a fall takes place, the person cannot fall too far and therefore minimises the risk of injury.
Where it is not always possible to provide rails and barriers as mentioned above, then other fall arrest equipment such as safety harnesses, nets and lifeline systems must be used. Such equipment is used to safely stop falls rather than prevent them, and obviously the latter is always the best solution where possible and must remain your top priority.