How You Can Make Roof Access as Safe as Possible For Your Staff and Contractors

If you are a contractor or a work safety manager, then you know all about how dangerous a rooftop can be. There is potential for an accident to occur anywhere at any time if the proper safety procedures aren’t followed. Slips, trips and falls can lead to serious injury and even death.

Falls not only cost the company time and money but are devastating to an employee’s family, their attitudes and their ability to do the work they were employed to do. The first step to providing a safe working environment is risk assessment. Identify the most common roof safety hazards and make sure all employees know and follow the safety procedures. Here are some main points to consider.


Safe Roof Access

When performing a risk assessment analysis, it’s important to start at the ground level. Construction workers will need safe access to the roof via a certified roof ladder. Roof access ladders must be properly secured and appropriate for the type of access your workers will need. Workers should be required to wear a safety harness when climbing above 2 Meters.

During construction, workers may also need to gain access via a roof access hatch. These hatches can pose a large safety risk if they are not compliant or are installed incorrectly. Installing rooftop safety railings for hatches is required to help prevent falls as per Australian Standards.

Leading edges are one of the most dangerous safety hazards on the job site because there is no barrier at the roof edge. This means there is nothing to prevent a worker from falling off the edge of the roof. Safety railings need to be installed to minimise this danger. This is a form of Elimination.

According to the latest safety statistics, more than 50% of falls are from less than 3 meters high. This means that accidental falls even happen as the worker is ascending or descending from the roof or elevated area. That is why it’s imperative that the roof access features you use are up to standard and that workers make sure they are wearing a safety harness where required.


Fall Protection Plan

It’s a requirement by law to have a fall protection plan. This plan calls for a contractor to perform a risk analysis on the job. All unprotected openings, hatchways and potential falling dangers must be fenced off or barricaded.

The roof itself should be checked for wear and tear and its loadbearing capacity established. Scaffolding or mobile elevating work platforms are also a safe form of temporary roof access. If this option isn’t possible, then portable industrial ladders with a load rating of at least 125kg can be used.


Protecting from Above

When work is being carried out there is a high probability that tools or other heavy equipment could be dropped. This poses a huge risk to those working below and should be closely managed.

Protect ground level workers by isolating the area below where the roof work is taking place. Toe boards must be fixed as temporary edge protection to hold loose debris and tools that are not being used.

Only those that are carrying out the work should be allowed to enter. The area must be clearly marked as a no-go zone and closely monitored.

If work needs to be carried out on a pitched surface the pitch can’t be greater than 10 degrees. In this case, a safe access route or working platform will need to be designed.


Training is Essential

Everyone involved in the project must be trained sufficiently and know what is required of them. There must be a fall prevention strategy and all workers must be required to learn it. All workers should know what the procedure is in case of a fall.


Keep Up to Date with Current Legislations

If you are the facilities manager, you have a duty to protect the people that work for you. It’s important to familiarise yourself with the current legislation and make sure you are in adherence.

In the name of safety, prevention is always better than cure and every possible step should be taken to protect your workers from potential dangers. Complying with the laws and conducting a thorough risk analysis is paramount to being safe when anyone works on a roof.

If you require any assistance with roof access systems, don’t hesitate to contact us on 03 9462 3350 or send us an email at