It’s safe to say that most people don’t really think about their loft often. Most rarely ever venture up there, usually to retrieve Christmas decorations or other junk.
However, many types of domestic works often require access to the loft or attic spaces of homes. Whether it is work on hot water tanks, telecoms maintenance, or solar battery installation/management, professionals regularly need to access these spaces to carry out work.
But there are dangers lurking in the lofts and attics around the country. If the proper precautions aren’t taken when accessing these spaces, you could find yourself quickly running into danger. Carrying out this kind of work without the proper preparation and planning can quickly lead to injury or worse.
Risks & Dangers in Lofts
There are a number of jobs which require loft access. These can include:
- Hot water tank/boiler repairs
- Extractor fan repairs and maintenance
- Chimney flue work
- Cavity wall and loft insulation
- Loft conversions
- Telecoms and power cable work
- Solar panel battery maintenance
- Roof repairs
- General repairs
While all of these jobs come with their own specific dangers, there are several general risks you can encounter when accessing lofts.
These can include the obvious, such as falling through non-reinforced flooring, or even through the open hatch, as well as general slips and trips. But there are other risks which you might not even consider, including physical exposure to the irritants in common insulation material, and electrocution from old wiring hidden in the insulation itself.
All of these dangers can cause serious harm, but the good news is, they can also be easily avoided with careful planning, and the right equipment.
Tackling Loft Work Risks the Right Way
As with most dangerous jobs, your first step should be assessing the risk, and implementing the right risk mitigation.
If you are a professional who regularly carries out work in lofts, you or your employer should have an applicable working policy and standard risk assessment process, in line with Work at Height Regulations. Even if you’ve done the job a thousand times, you are legally required to adhere to these processes. Any risks should be controlled to the best of your ability.
Another consideration is training: have you or the person carrying out the task received the correct training to carry out this particular task? This is less applicable when carrying out DIY, but nobody should be carrying out professional work without the correct training and certifications.
The next step is equipment. If you don’t have the correct equipment and PPE for the work you’re doing, you should stop immediately. While loft work can seem straightforward, the tight, cluttered nature of lofts and attics means things can and do go wrong, fast. No one should be forced to carry out work without the right equipment.
Employers and managers are legally required under Health and Safety regulations to purchase and supply the necessary equipment to employees. For loft work, this can include things like purpose-built loft ladders, safety rails, lighting, loft covers, and a platform from which to work. You can refuse to carry out work if you don’t have the right equipment.
While this equipment seems like a no-brainer, too many workers end up carrying out work without the right equipment due to negligence or to save time/cost.
Should You Use Boards When Carrying out Loft Work?
A common ‘quick and dirty’ solution to creating a working platform in lofts is using boards, often made from wood. While they are cheap and easy, and provide some protection from falls, they are a poor substitute for proper loft working platforms.
Basic wooden board solutions will separate workers from the fragile floor by spreading the weight of the worker, and provide some protection from insulating material. However, they are ineffective against other risks, particularly electrocution from live wires, and can even be a fire hazard.
There are other, more effective loft working platform solutions, but too many workers avoid these, either due to cost, or the difficulty of getting them up into the loft itself. That is why we created our own solution in the form of the CoverSafe Spark.
Formerly known as the 240 Mat, the CoverSafe Spark is a lightweight, telescoping, and fully insulated GRP loft work platform, designed for use in roof spaces. With its innovative trellis design, the solution can be used at widths of up to 2m, covering a total area of 1.6m2. When closed, the mat is just 1.15m x 0.48m, and at a total weight of 10kg, it’s a breeze to get it up into loft spaces and back down again.
The CoverSafe Spark is a fantastic insulated loft works mat solution, guaranteeing safety for work such as loft conversions, telecoms maintenance, boiler repairs, and more.
At Oxford Safety Components, our number one concern is the safety of those carrying out potentially dangerous work, and we’re doing what we can to make that work safer. For more information, or to discuss your project needs with us, call us on +44 01869 323282, or use our online contact form.