Health and Safety in Roof Work

According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE), falls accounted for more deaths and injuries in the construction industry than anything else in 2017. Of those injured or killed, roofers account for a substantial 24%. With this in mind, we believe it has never been more important to complete a comprehensive risk assessment for working at height, to avoid these occurrences.

Direct Safety Solutions offers health and safety consultancy and training services and provides risk management solutions tailored to your business.

Man doing roof work

How to define working at height

While it may seem like common sense, defining what ‘working at height’ really means could present some grey areas. HSE clarify it with their definition:

“Work in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury”

Regardless of the length or nature of the roof work being carried out, the risk of falling from height is always present. Many deaths have occurred simply from people going up on a roof to make a quick check or complete a small repair. However, with proper assessment, planning and training, roof work can be carried out in a way that is compliant with all health and safety regulations.

What are the risks of working from height?

There are a multitude of factors which can make working at height dangerous. Things such as weather conditions, the suitability of the equipment being used, the condition of the roof, and even materials falling from the roof on the area below can all be cause for injury.

Research by HSE states that falls through fragile surfaces, particularly fibre-cement roofs and rooflights, account for 22% of all fall from height fatal injuries in the construction industry.

Before any roof work is carried out, large or small, it is essential that proper risk assessment and planning is performed. The following steps should always be taken when creating your risk assessment:

  • Identify the hazards
  • Determine who could be harmed, and how
  • Evaluate the risks and determine the necessary precautions to take to avoid them
  • Record all findings

Once the risk assessment has been carried out and implemented, it is important that you keep adjusting it as necessary, and repeat for every new job carried out.

What to consider when planning roof work

The nature of roof work can be extremely varied. Work could be carried out on a sloped, flat, or industrial roof, or even from scaffolding, with each instance carrying its own risks. You should come up with (or have access to) a roof assessment checklist before work begins.. You should think about:

  • The condition of the roof
    • Is there damage or deformation? Is there any debris that poses a risk?
  • The exterior features of the roof
    • Are there skylights, chimneys, flashing, or fascia that could increase risk?
  • The interior components of the roof
    • Has the roof been maintained properly? Is there any structural damage to trusses that could cause a fall?
  • The type of roof being worked on
    • Flat roof – is there any blistering, cracks, or punctures?
    • Sloped roof – are there any shingles missing? If metal, is there any corrosion?

Ensuring you have all areas of health and safety covered can be arduous when completing roof work, but Direct Safety Solutions are here to help. We offer support packages that include access to your own consultant, who will be on-hand to offer their expert advice – whatever the issue. Get in touch today to find out how Direct Safety Solutions can help you!