Up on the roof
Roofers make up nearly a quarter of all workers killed in falls from height at work, and this is one area where significant improvement in working practices is necessary.
According to HSE statistics, falls through fragile materials, such as roof lights and asbestos cement roofing sheets account for more of these deaths than any other single cause. The injuries and fatalities are not restricted to those working on the roofs either, with many documented cases of injuries to passersby as a result of poorly planned roof work.
Also worth noting is that the risks to those working on roofs aren’t limited to fall hazards. For example, exposure to dangerous substances such as asbestos and electrocution from overhead electrical cables are also risks which must be managed.
In order to promote safety when working on roofs, the HSE have just released their fourth edition of ‘Working Safely on Roofs’.
Aimed at everyone from contractors to the designers and specifiers of buildings and components, the document provides guidance on how to plan work on roofs and carry it out safely. It covers new buildings, repair, maintenance, cleaning work and demolition.
The use of powered access equipment is given a special mention in the report, which stresses that as long as the proper safety measures are in place, mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) can provide “excellent safe access to roofs” and that the “risks associated with scaffold erection can be avoided if mobile access equipment is used rather than scaffolding”.