Any roofing job has an element of risk involved. With one in five deaths within the construction industry being attributed to roof work, precautions have to be taken to ensure the safety of both staff members and the general public.

Before any work is undertaken, a full risk assessment should be carried out. It is a legal requirement that all work at height is extensively planned. Workers should be sufficiently trained for the task which they are about to undertake. A method statement is the most common way of organising and controlling roof work.  Contractors should liaise closely with the client in order to make arrangements about the work.

The most common cause of accidents, both fatal and nonfatal, when it comes to roof work are falls from roof edges or openings. The majority of accidents could be avoided if the person undertaking the work were:

Properly trained – Properly equipped – Properly supervised

It is important that the work area can be accessed safely and easily. All access points, be they scaffolds, ladders or otherwise, must be attached securely. For both sloping and flat roof projects, edge protection must be fitted to prevent accidents due to people or objects falling.

Working on fragile roofs means a lot more precautions have to be taken. All work surfaces should be assumed to be fragile until a competent professional has declared them safe.  Any roof made from sheet material should not be trusted to bear a worker’s weight.  When working on a fragile surface, fall arrest devices such as harnesses should be used to ensure workers’ safety.

The area surrounding the building you are working on should be cordoned off to make sure no members of the public are hit by falling debris. If it isn’t feasible to clear the area then other measures, such as suspended nets or guard railing should be installed for the duration of the work.

Working at height can be dangerous and as a result it is important that all the correct steps are taken and workers strictly adhere to safety policies.

Does anyone have anything else to add in regard to roof safety?

This piece was written by Mark Enright, a writer for Roofing specialist contractors.