Safety steps to working at height

Sep 30, 2020

When working at height, it is crucial that roofers are aware of the many different tools and equipment available to them that can help to minimise the risk of falls. Here, Jamie Brassington, Product Manager at WernerCo, discusses the different equipment that should be used and the support available that can help educate roofers on the safest ways of working.

Whilst trade bodies and manufacturers have continued to educate tradesmen on the dangers of working at height, the recent figures from HSE show that there is work to be done. The latest ‘Workplace Fatal Injuries in Great Britain 2020' Annual Statistics report showed that whilst there was a reduction in fatalities caused by a fall from height during 2019/20, it still remains the main cause of fatal accidents, accounting for almost a third of all those recorded.

To help combat this, it is crucial that roofers are utilising the correct tools and that employees and employers are up to date on best working practices in order to safely work at height.


Using equipment safely

When it comes to finding safe ways to work at height, there are a range of different tools and equipment available that are suited to different types of jobs.

Ladders, for example, should only be used for short periods, for light work and should also not be used if the user has to overreach. Work at Height regulations prohibits overreaching as this can cause injury, and if the user cannot move around easily or needs to frequently re-position a ladder in order to work, this can hinder productivity.

Any work that is done with the aid of a ladder should always be carried out face-on and three points of contact should always be maintained. When working on roofs, the suitability requirements are also often different as access to another level is usually required, meaning any ladder used must extend past the stepping point by at least 1 metre.

For the majority of work carried out on a flat roof, temporary fall protection is usually needed to undertake work safely. Although it might seem obvious, when working on a sloping roof, workers should never work directly on slates or tiles unless they have they have additional safety measures, such as a roof ladder. The Youngman® 5766 Roof Ladder series is designed especially for roofs pitched up to 55° and is fitted with ridge hook assembly, support bearers and wheels to help easily position the ladder and secure it when in use.


Be properly informed

For any ladder user looking for more information, the Access Industry Forum’s (AIF) new Safety Steps handbooks are a good starting point. Created in conjunction with other work at height organisations, the handbooks include comprehensive advice for anybody using a ladder or specifying working at height equipment. This is done through handy flow charts and checklists, which operatives and managers can follow to make the correct safety decisions.

As part of the guidance provided by AIF, it is also 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, both which have recently been tailored to accommodate social distancing. These short courses provide those working at height with the knowledge they need in order to work safely and use equipment correctly.

As well as taking careful considerations to ensure the correct tools and pieces of equipment are made available, both employers and employees have a responsibility to ensure their correct use. By enhancing their knowledge and following the guidelines set out by trade bodies, such as the AIF, roofers can play their part in helping reduce the number of accidents that occur when working at height. 

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Media Contacts:

Madeleine Read

E: [email protected]

T: 0121 454 9707

Katy Peacock

E: [email protected]

T: 0121 454 9707