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Health and Safety in Roof Work

We all know that working on roofs is a hazardous activity because it involves working at height. Roof work accounts for a quarter of all deaths in the construction industry.

Falls through fragile materials, such as roof lights and asbestos cement roofing sheets, account for more of these deaths than any other single cause. Not all the people killed while working on roofs are trained roofers: many people accessing roofs are maintenance workers. There are also many serious injuries, often resulting in permanent disabilities.

Safety should always be the first priority when working at height, and knowledge is the key to minimising the risk. The Health & Safety Executive’s in-depth guide contains the important information you need to know, and has recently been updated.

The fifth edition contains guidance on how to plan and work safely on roofs. It covers new buildings, repair, maintenance, cleaning work and demolition. It also includes some guidance for people not directly carrying out work on a roof, such as clients, designers and specifiers. Roof work is an issue not just for construction companies. Other workers, such as building maintenance staff and surveyors, can also fall from or through roofs. This guidance will be useful to anyone planning, arranging or supervising roof work, including:

•  Directors and partners of companies who carry out roof work;
•  Clients of projects involving roof work;
•  Designers and specifiers of buildings and components;
•  Principal contractors for projects that include roof work;
•  Owners of buildings where roof work may take place;
•  Trade union safety representatives and employees’ safety representatives;
• Anyone carrying out roof work, including employees and the self-employed; and safety consultants.

The guide is free to download here from the HSE website, and the site also contains many other essential guides on Health & Safety in construction.

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