Choosing the right safety system for the right solution is an essential part of site safety.
As roofing technology and products continue to evolve, so too must our understanding of the specific requirements around roofing access, maintenance and safety.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM), for instance, apply to everyone from designers, contractors to clients. They cover all elements of a project from planning to completion, including:
- project management
- planning of work
- employing the right people for the right job at the right time
- communicating information correctly
- consulting and engaging with workers regularly
They link to the 2005 Work at Height Regulations (WAHR), which apply to all working at height where there is any risk of a fall liable to cause injury. These place a clear duty on employers, the self-employed, facilities managers and building owners to ensure the safety of those working on a project.
If working at height is unavoidable, you should always ensure measures are in place to prevent falls or minimise the distance and consequence of a fall. Collective measures such as guardrails for areas with frequent access, or limiting access for inexperienced personnel play an important role.
WAHR require that, for construction work, handrails have a minimum height of 950mm, and that any gap between the top rail and any intermediate rail should not exceed 470mm. Toe boards must also be of a suitable size.
The system used will depend on the size and scale of the project. Some that aim to meet architectural design requirements offer straight, curved or inclined uprights, as well as a folding upright version that can be concealed from below when not in use. Guardrail systems like these are also used to contain designated access ways to services, antennae, photovoltaic zones or wind turbines. Proprietary anti-slip roof walkways also offer a firm footing and protect the roof finish.
Where collective solutions are not suitable for perimeter protection, cable-based fall protection systems offer a non-invasive solution. Anchor points top-fixed to the roof itself with an energy-absorbing coil avoid any roof damage in the event of a fall and protect its integrity.
Cable safety systems should always be specifically designed for – and tested in conjunction with – each particular roofing system, and endorsed by the roofing system manufacturer. It is crucial to think about how many people will be connected to a safety system at any one time and that everyone is fully trained in how to use the system.
Ultimately, continuous best practice is integral to maintaining worker safety, particularly for projects that involve working at height. Following the CDM and WAHR guidelines, implementing the correct processes and managing and selecting suitable equipment for the task ensures the safety of all involved in a project from the outset.