Fragile roofs continue to result in a staggering number of falls from height. As more and more employers feel the brunt of harsh fines for not following correct safety procedures, John Jones, General Manager at Easi-Dec, takes a closer look at what solutions are available.
Industrial roofing is prone to being fragile, with various weak spots and uneven surfaces making it an unsafe environment for workers undertaking rooftop tasks. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), falls from height remain one of the most common causes of fatality and major injury in the UK, resulting in 3,067 accidents in 2011/12. This is a small improvement on the 2010/11 figures where 3,957 major injuries were reported.
Working safely at height
The key piece of legislation is the Work at Height Regulations 2005, as amended by the Work at Height (Amendment) Regulations 2007, there is a legal requirement for anyone who contracts others to access and maintain rooftop equipment on public buildings and housing developments to ensure proper safety precautions are in place. Breaching these regulations can result in a legal prosecution and either a substantial fine or possible imprisonment.
A Bury roofer was recently taken to court by the HSE, and fined £2,000, after putting his workers’ lives at risks, despite previously being prosecuted when a member of staff fell through a skylight at an industrial unit. The roofing company was hired to carry out minor repairs to the roof of a furniture warehouse to fix leaks in the valley between two sloping. One of the roofers was seen climbing up to the ridge of the roof with a casual labourer and an employee from the warehouse to check for other leaks, but with no safety equipment. The owner pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and one breach of the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969. As well as the monetary penalty, the roofer was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service in the next 12 months.
It is essential that all work at height is properly planned and carried out by competent members of staff to ensure that minimal accidents occur. It is also the contractor’s responsibility to be trained to safely work at height, ensuring that they understand and work within the regulations, with adequate measures taken to ensure the welfare of users.
Selecting equipment for working on fragile roofs
Selecting the right equipment is key to reducing the risk of accidents and falls from height. It needs to be secure, easy to access and meet required regulations. From the contractor’s point of view, it’s also helpful if the system selected is easy to install, available at short notice and offers good value for money.
Access to industrial roof tops requires solutions that are designed to overcome the challenges of working on fragile roofs and provide the user with a safe working position for skin maintenance, inspection, cleaning and re-sealing work. Many manufacturers, including Easi-Dec have developed a range of products to provide a safety system that is suitable for all requirements and simplify short duration roof work.
Any of these three types of access systems can be considered when accessing industrial roof tops – mesh walkways, rolling platforms and mobile walking frames.
Mesh walkways are a great option when access is needed to run from the eaves to ridge. It provides the benefit of spreading the weight across the support battens, allowing the workers to confidently move along the full length of the system. Opting for a solution that is made from high grade aluminium ensures the structure is robust, lightweight, and easily transportable. Roof Walk is a proven safe solution for working on fragile roofs, offered by Easi-Dec.
Guarded Rolling Platforms
A fully guarded rolling platform, which is mounted on twin racks, allows workers to move up and down the roof on a secure and level surface. Requiring no penetration, the structure is easy to assemble and take down, and is possible to transport quickly to other parts of the roof. The platform moves along a linking track which is fitted with safety mesh and battens to provide further support. Easi-Dec has in its industrial roof access product range Roof-Walk which has been designed to overcome the challenges with working on fragile roofs.
Lightweight mobile walking frames are designed to provide safe access for one or two people when working along valley gutters, e.g. Easi-Dec Valley-Walk. The outriggers are filled with safety mesh and cushioned for comfort. This system can also be used to transport light payloads. Suitable for typical symmetrical valleys, the system could also be fully adjustable to suit uneven designs.
Specifying the Right Solution
Specifying these types of systems presents contractors with a quicker, more cost-effective and more practical approach to rooftop access, and will ensure that they and their employers comply fully with the requirements of the Work at Height Regulations. It’s a win-win for both parties.
Easi-Dec provides full technical support and advice on selecting safety solution for working on fragile, industrial roofs. Contact us