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Working at height on pitched roofs

In 2014/2015, falls from height were the most common cause of fatalities in the construction industry, accounting for nearly three in ten (29%) fatal injuries to workers. The consequences of a fall when working on a roof can be extremely serious, both for the individual involved and the business. However, if the appropriate safety measures are put in place, it can significantly reduce the risk of serious injury or fatality.

Falls from roofs are most common on traditional pitched, or ‘sloping’ roofs.  These incidents tend to occur in the following locations:

  • the eaves;
  • from slipping down the roof and then over the eaves;
  • through the roof internally, for example, during a roof truss assembly;
  • from gable ends or;
  • from weather conditions, such as ice, snow, wind and rain that can cause a slip or trip.

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 state that those planning to work at height, particularly on a roof, must attempt to adapt the work where possible to allow it to be carried out from underneath or via the use of a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP). However, when work at height on a roof can’t be avoided, the guidance recommends that the appropriate safety equipment and measures must be in place before work starts.

Fall Arrest specialist providers like Heightsafe Systems can ensure that workers are safe and a new build or refurbishment project is fully compliant by putting in place adequate safety measures that help prevent or minimise the risk of a fall.  This is particularly important when working on a sloping roof. The options we offer are:

 Edge protection

When working on a sloping roof, full edge protection at eaves level will normally be required. This edge protection needs to be strong enough to withstand a person falling against it – and the longer the slope and the steeper the pitch, this stronger the edge protection needs to be.

On larger roofs, or those that have a steep pitch, the momentum of a person sliding down from near the ridge and hitting edge protection at the eaves may be such that intermediate platforms are needed to withstand the force. Our specialists can advise you if there is a requirement for this when they are on site. At Heightsafe Systems, we offer a range of guardrail systems for use in all situations where a collective edge protection solution is required.

It is also worth bearing in mind that if the work being carried out is within two metres of the gable ends, edge protection will be needed at this location as well. In these situations, use of MEWPs or proprietary access systems may be considered.

It is important to commission the services of a specialist when fitting any work at height equipment, including edge protection. When it comes to edge protection, the provider should carry out pitch measurements prior to fitting, to ensure it is specified correctly.

 Roof ladders

On sloping roofs, staff should not work directly on slates or tiles, as they do not provide a safe footing, particularly when they are wet. The best way of avoiding this is to use roof ladders and proprietary staging to enable safe passage across the structure. These must be designed for the purpose, of good construction, correctly supported, and, if used on a sloping roof, securely fixed by means of a ridge hook placed over the ridge, bearing on the opposite roof. They should be used in addition to eaves-level edge protection.

Awareness training

As well as edge protection, roof ladders and other work at height equipment, Heightsafe Systems provides a rooftop safety awareness course that highlights the key hazards and risks that are present when working at height on a roof. The course covers essential areas such as the differences between safe and unsafe rooftops as well as the basic requirements for guardrails, barriers and good working practices.

Working on a roof can be dangerous at any time but the risks are even higher when working on a sloping roof. At Heightsafe Systems we are a specialist provider of safety solutions and we work hard to ensure that the risks that are present when working at height are minimised through the use of market-leading safety equipment and training programmes.

For more information on how we can ensure your employees are safe when working at height, including sloping roofs, contact Heightsafe Systems on: 020 3819 7199 or contact us here.

8th October 2016 10:21 am

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