See also Working at Heights (Link).
All roof work must be risk assessed and controlled by or through Property and Campus Services.
When planning Roof Work think:
- Is there a suitable risk assessment?
- Is there edge protection to stop people or materials falling?
- During industrial roofing, have nets been provided to stop people falling from the leading edge of the roof and from partially fixed sheets?
- Have you identified fragile materials such as cement sheets and rooflights?
- Have you taken precautions to stop people falling through fragile materials when working on the roof, e.g. by providing barriers, covers or working platforms?
- Remember 'Walking the bolts' to follow roof purlins is dangerous!
- Is there a need for fall-netting or 'safety bags'?
- Are people kept away from the area below the roof work?
- If this is not possible, have additional precautions been taken to stop debris falling onto them?
- Are you following HSE Guidance?
Guard rails and toe boards or suitable barriers erected at the edge or eaves level of a roof are usually needed to stop people and materials from falling off.
If work is going to be done on any roof, make sure there is:
- Safe access onto and off the roof, for example, a general access or tower scaffold.
- A safe means of moving across the roof, for example, suitable roof ladders.
- A safe means of working on the roof - a guard railed platform (for example, a scaffold or a MEWP).
Falls from the 'leading edge' need to be prevented. Leading edges are created as new roof sheets are laid, or old ones are removed.
Work at the leading edge requires careful planning to develop a safe system of work. Nets are the preferred method for reducing the risk of injury from falls at the leading edge, as they provide protection to everyone on the roof. Nets should be erected by trained riggers.
Stagings, fitted with guard rails or suitable barriers and toe boards, in advance of the leading edge can provide protection in some circumstances. But these will need to be used in conjunction with harnesses attached to a suitable fixing. Close supervision of this system of work will be needed as it is difficult for harnesses to remain clipped on at all times throughout the work activity.
When developing a safe system of work, also consider:
- How the first sheets will be laid - a separate platform may be required (a pack of roof sheets is not a safe working platform) - and how hip ends and other special details are to be fitted.
- How sheets will be raised to roof level - decide whether lifting machinery such as an inclined hoist can be used. This will eliminate unnecessary risks when placing packs of sheets on the roof supports or when breaking open packs spread over the roof supports.
Many roof assemblies are, or can become, fragile. Asbestos cement, fibreglass and plastic generally become more fragile with age, steel sheets may rust and sheets on poorly repaired roofs might not be properly supported.
Any of these materials could give way without warning. Do not trust any sheeted roof and do not stand directly on any of them. On a fragile roof, never try to walk along the line of the roof bolts above the purlins, or along the roof ridge, as the sheets can still crack and give way.
Roof openings and fragile rooflights are an extra hazard and some rooflights are difficult to see in certain light conditions and others may be hidden by paint. Protection from falling through openings and fragile rooflights can be provided by barriers or with covers which are secured or labelled with a warning.
On fragile roofs, the work has to be carefully planned to prevent falls through the roof. If access onto the roof cannot be avoided, working platforms to spread the load (or other proprietary access system) will be necessary and these should be used with edge protection or harnesses (if a suitable anchorage position is not available a life line system may have to be installed).
On sloping roofs, purpose-made roof ladders or boards to spread the weight of workers and materials will be required.
Do not throw materials such as old slates, tiles etc from the roof or scaffold as someone may be passing by. Use enclosed debris chutes, lower the debris in containers or use brick guards and / or netting on scaffolding, but remember most netting will only retain light material. Fans and / or covered walkways may also be needed where the risk is particularly high.
The HSE provides very useful information on roof work and these are accessible from the links below. The standards set by the HSE in these documents is that which is expected at the University whenever roof work is undertaken and therefore risk assessments must take these into account.
- Working on Roofs: HSE INDG284 (free)
- Health and Safety in Roof Work: HSE HSG33 (free download)
- Protecting the Public - your next move: HSE ISBN 0717611485 (free download)