SAFETY, WORKING AT HEIGHT
Safety steps to working at height
For the past five years, falls from height have been the most commonly recorded cause of fatal workplace
injuries. With this in mind, roofers must be aware of the steps they should take to ensure they work in the
safest way possible, as explained by Jamie Brassington, product manager at WernerCo
Over the past 12 months alone,
there have been several
initiatives by industry trade
bodies, such as the Ladder
Association and Access Industry Forum,
to educate tradespeople about the dangers
of working at height.
However, despite campaigns and
guidance issued, there are still a large
number of falls from height recorded.
Falls from height remain the leading
cause of workplace fatalities and injuries,
accounting for 40 fatalities in 2018/2019,
according to the Health and Safety
Executive’s annual statistics for workplace
fatal injuries in Great Britain.
With this in mind, both employees and
employers need to ensure they are
up-to-date on best practice in order to
safely work at height.
Be properly informed
Before carrying out any work, it’s crucial
to assess the job at hand and determine
the risks that could potentially be
involved. If the job involves working at
height, the new Access Industry Forum
(AIF) handbooks offer a good starting
point for both users and site managers.
The AIF’s Safety Steps handbooks,
which have been created in conjunction
with other work at height organisations,
includes comprehensive advice for
anybody using a ladder or specifying
working at height equipment, as well as
handy flow charts and checklists that
operatives and managers can follow to
make the correct safety decisions.
As part of the guidance provided
by AIF, it is highlighted that anybody
working at height must have sufficient
knowledge and training before
undertaking any job.
In order to comply with this,
WernerCo offers specific work at height
training, such as the Ladder Association’s
Ladders and Stepladders for Users, or
PASMA’s Towers for Users course to
ensure best practice when working
Using equipment safely
When it comes to using a ladder, the HSE
has published materials on how to safely
carry out work, which both employees
and employers should refer to.
Ladders should only be used for short
periods, for light work, and should also
not be used if the user has to overstretch.
Work at height regulations prohibits
overstretching, which can ultimately
diminish productivity if the user cannot
move around easily, or if they are
confined to a very small work area.
Any work that is done with the aid of a
ladder should always be carried out faceon,
and three points of contact should
always be maintained. However, ladders
are not suitable if there is a requirement to
lift awkward or heavy loads.
If the job at hand does call for a
ladder, the next step is to consider
whether the product chosen is suitable.
This includes checking if it’s the right
size and material, and whether the
ladder has features that would be
suitable for the job required. This could
include needing a secure standing
platform, handrails for easy climbing or
even a high handrail.
For roofers however, the suitability
requirement differs because access to
another level, such as the roof, is required
so a ladder which extends past the
stepping point by at least 1m is needed.
For the majority of work on a flat
roof, temporary fall protection is usually
needed to undertake work safely.
Additionally, full fall protection will
normally be required whilst working on
sloping roofs. Although it might seem
obvious, when working on a sloping
roof, workers should never work directly
on slates or tiles, as they do not provide
a safe footing for workers, particularly
when they are wet. Therefore, a roof
ladder should be used in this instance.
Whether working on a flat or sloping
roof, it’s essential to understand the
different precautions that need to be
taken to ensure workers minimise the
risk of injury, and personal protective
equipment should also be considered, as
well as the equipment being used.
When it comes to fall protection
equipment, there are many different
solutions available on the market. With
many tailored to different types of job, it
is important for users to be fully aware of
the correct application for each task, and
the key features they can offer roofers.
WernerCo’s range of Fall Protection
kits are specifically designed with safety
in mind. The Professional Roofer’s Kit
provides the necessary protection for
working around roofing installations and
is designed to be easy to use on a variety
of roof pitches.
By taking all of these factors into
consideration, roofers will be in a better
position to safeguard themselves and
reduce the risk of injury should a slip or
If the industry as a whole can take
more proactive steps to safety, this will
hopefully reduce the number of accidents
and fatal injuries reported each year.
out any work,
it’s crucial that
assess the job
at hand and
risks that could
“If the industry as a whole can take
more proactive steps to safety, this
will hopefully reduce the number of
accidents and fatal injuries reported
36 www.rcimag.co.uk May 2020