Working at height is a particularly dangerous - but often unavoidable - job. It’s down to employers to ensure employees have the competency, training, and equipment to carry out this work safely, and put control measures in place wherever possible to mitigate the hidden dangers of roof access.
However, the risks are not always obvious, and it’s crucial employers and managers carry out thorough risk assessments to identify all risks.
Accessing The Roof
Sometimes, we’re so focused on the work to be done, we underestimate the hidden dangers of roof access posed by simply getting up to the roof in the first place.
There are a range of ways to access the rooftop for maintenance and more. These include:
- Stair towers
- Mobile scaffold towers
- Mobile access equipment
- Roof access hatches
Each of these access solutions comes with its own benefits and drawbacks. It’s crucial to do your research into each solution and identify which works best for you, and will be most effective in keeping workers safe.
One of the main concerns will be whether you will simply be using your chosen method for access and egress, or whether work will need to be carried out from the platform itself. As a general rule, you should not work directly from ladders, and should only use them to access the roof.
Modern roofs are littered with hidden trip hazards. Line of sight can be restricted, and with your mind on other things, you can find yourself on the wrong side of cable trays, wiring, changes in level, and more.
A good solution to this is first identifying the hazards in a risk assessment, then installing a roof walkway. These can provide a safe, demarcated route across the rooftop that can protect workers without damaging the surface of the roof.
One of the biggest yet underestimated dangers of roof access. Fragile roofs can put those accessing the roof in serious danger and come in a range of forms, from skylights and roof lights, to roof tiles made from weaker materials like wood.
Rooflights in particular can be seriously dangerous. Although they are supposed to be 'man safe' upon installation, there is potential for them to become worn and dangerous due to the passage of time. People may still stand on them, believing them to be man safe, or can step on them accidentally as they become obscured by the weather, leaves, grime, and more.
Rooflight covers or collective guardrail systems can all be great solutions for protecting against the dangers of fragile roofs, as these completely prevent access. However, if access is needed, you can utilise other solutions such as temporary fragile roof working platforms to keep workers safe.
The legal onus is on employers to identify and control risks on roofs, but it's everyone's responsibility to think about safety, particularly when working at height.
For more information about any of our safe roof work solutions, call Oxford Safety Components on 01869 32 32 82 or use our online contact form.