Why fragile roof protection is essential

A roofing company has been fined £25,000 after a young worker suffered multiple injuries when an asbestos roof gave way beneath him.


The worker was carrying out temporary repairs to the roof of a business park premises by placing scaffold boards over the fragile asbestos roof sheets, while wooden frames made of battens and covered in tarpaulin were overlaid on the roof.  As the final frame was being installed the worker walked across an unprotected area of the roof and it gave way beneath him.


The HSE reported that using scaffold boards in isolation was unsafe as workers would have been at risk during the placement and removal of the boards, as well as during the installation of the wooden frames.  This meant workers were at risk of falling through the roof at several points during the work.  The roofing company had not properly assessed the risks and should have ensured that suitable equipment such as platforms or guardrails were installed. 


The HSE's Inspector commented that, “simple measures such as using barriers to prevent access to fragile areas or safely installing adequate coverings over the fragile roof sheets should have meant workers were protected.  It is essential that hazards associated with working at height are recognised and understood by those carrying out the work.  You should never work on a fragile roof without a safe system of work.”


With the range of equipment available to allow work to be carried out safely, accidents such as these are totally preventable.  Easi-Dec has a range of products, including Roof-Walk and Board-Walk, which have been designed specifically to provide safety when working on fragile roofs.