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Working Safely at Height During Winter

With winter fast approaching, ensuring the safety of employees when carrying out roof maintenance or other work at height activities should become a priority for building owners and managers. Of course, working on a roof can be dangerous at any time of year but the risks are increased during the winter months, due to ice, wet surfaces, strong winds and low levels of light.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there are more major/specific slips, trips and falls reported in autumn and winter than summer and spring. The HSE suggests that slips and trips tend to peak during the winter months as a reflection of the adverse weather conditions, such as snow, rain and ice resulting in slippery ground surfaces.

These same conditions that cause slips at ground level also occur on the roof, although the consequences are far more serious. As a result of the dangers of working at height at any time of year, legislation has been introduced to protect workers and these legal requirements include:

  • Work at Height Regulations 2005
  • BS EN 7883:2005 Code of practice for the design, selection, installation, use and maintenance of anchor devices conforming to BS EN 795
  • BS EN 365: 2004 Personal protective equipment against falls from a height
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER)
  • Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended)
  • Plus others

With falls from height increasing during the colder months, ensuring roof maintenance is carried out safely in compliance with all legislation has never been so important. For instance, the risk of snow and ice on a roof hiding dangers, such as fragile surfaces or skylights, can lead to falls which can easily prove fatal.

Conversely, using the services of a specialist work at height company that can carry out the maintenance safely ensures that your roof is in top condition. Here at Heightsafe Systems we offer a range of roof maintenance services:

  • Gutter lining, cleaning, maintenance and repair;
  • High level cleaning;
  • Commercial flat roofing and repairs;
  • Cut edge corrosion;
  • Slate and tile roof repairs;
  • Lead repairs;
  • Liquid roof coating and;
  • Rooflight replacement.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that it is not only maintaining your roof that needs to be considered during the winter months. You have a duty to ensure that your fall protection systems are regularly inspected and tested every 12 months, or more often. Heightsafe Systems can inspect, test and re-certify your equipment before winter to ensure that you are legally compliant.

The dangers of working at height during the colder winter months, where ice, snow and wind excerbate the dangers, mean that more building owners and managers are factoring out this specialist service.

Here at Heightsafe Systems we can inspect, test and certify all manufacturers’ PPE kit in line with BS EN 365:2004 regulations, including inertia reels, fall arrest blocks, harnesses and lanyards, davits, winches, stretchers and rescue equipment and can manage your fall arrest assets for you throughout the winter period.

Remember, working on a roof can be dangerous at any time, but the risks are increased during the winter months.

If you would like advice on how to keep your employees safe when working at height this winter, contact Heightsafe Systems on: 020 3819 7199.

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