how to work safely at height

Did you know that roof work-related accidents account for over a quarter of all injuries in the construction industry? It’s an unsettling fact, but with the right knowledge, you can eliminate the hazards associated with working on a roof.

In this blog, you will learn about the main hazards of working on a roof, the precautions you should take before you attempt to work on a roof and the equipment you can use to work safely on a roof.

What are the main roof work hazards?

Working on a roof (or any kind of work at height) presents an opportunity for a fall that, in some cases, can be deadly. Whether workers fall from an unprotected roof edge or through a fragile/unstable roof material, falls are the number one cause of injury when working on a roof.

Sadly, a fall from height is not the only hazard that you need to consider when you’re thinking about working on a roof. Here are a few other roof work hazards that often lead to injury:

  • Being trapped by a moving object or collapsing structure
  • Being struck by a moving or flying object
  • Coming into contact with an electrical source

Planning for safe roof work

Many of the accidents that occur while people are working on roofs could have been avoided if proper planning and risk assessments had been carried out. For this reason, it’s absolutely vital that you plan for all eventualities and ensure you have the right equipment and protocols in place before you undertake roof work of any kind.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, people planning to work on a roof should:

  • Avoid work at height if possible.
  • Use the correct equipment and measures to prevent falls when working at height cannot be avoided.
  • Where the risk of a fall cannot be eliminated completely, equipment and precautions should be used to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall if one should occur.

Read More: Our Height Safety Checklist

Roof work risk assessments

It’s important that all persons who will be working on the roof have had the correct training and are competent to do so. Before work on the roof can begin, a competent person must carry out a risk assessment to highlight potential roof work hazards.

All roofs should be considered as fragile until a competent person has confirmed otherwise. Falling through a fragile roof is one of the most common causes of roof work injuries, so it’s important that you don’t ‘presume’ a roof is stable.

During your roof work risk assessment should:

  • Identify all potential roof work hazards.
  • Outline who will be affected by these hazards and how.
  • Evaluate the risks & decide on relevant precautionary actions.
  • Record the findings in a simple, easy-to-read format.
  • Review and update your risk assessment as the roof work is carried out.

Read More: Our Working at Height Risk Assessment

Sloped roofs often require scaffolding to prevent workers or equipment from slipping and falling off the edge. For short-duration jobs on sloped roofs, you might find a secured roof ladder provides suitable access and stability.

Flat roofs are often easier to work on. Instead of scaffolding, you could use a secure guardrail or toe board to prevent falls from the edge.

Equipment for safe roof work

Whether you’re working on a sloped or flat roof, if your risk assessment deems there to be a fall risk then it’s important you use appropriate fall arrest equipment to keep you/your workers safe. Fragile roofs are particularly hazardous, so please think carefully when you’re choosing the fall arrest equipment for the job.

Appropriate Harness

Each worker will need a harness to keep them safe while working on roofs. Above, you can see our G-Force P10 Full Body Harness.

This is a great choice for roof work because it’s comfortable to wear, enhances visibility and features a rear dorsal anchor point. Having the anchor point at the rear means that lanyards will not get in the way as the worker moves around the roof.

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Fall Arrest Block

For situations where more freedom of movement is required, our retractable type fall arrest block is a great option as it's certified in both vertical and horizontal use. This is the G-Force CR250HV 11mtr Fall Arrest Block for Horizontal or Vertical Use. It’s durable, lightweight and comes with an 11mtr steel cable.

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So, here are our tips for working on a roof safely. If you have any questions about roof work hazards or the equipment that you should use, feel free to give us a call on 0117 9381 600.