Rooftop Working: Key Risks to Watch Out For

Posted on Posted in News Posts

Working on a roof can be highly dangerous. Rooftop falls account for more deaths and serious injuries among construction workers than any other hazard..

Incidents can occur during building work or even during maintenance jobs, cleaning and inspections. No matter how long or short the task, you must carefully consider the hazards and put sufficient measures in place to keep your whole team safe.

Here are 5 key risks to look out for:


1. Unprotected Edges

Unprotected edges are a significant risk to workers. The first line of defence should be sturdy guardrails, strong enough to withstand a person falling against them.

Where edge protection is unfeasible, or doesn’t sufficiently reduce the risk of falling, use additional fall protection measures. This could include safety netting or Personal Fall Protection Equipment (PFPE) such as harness kits with secure anchor points.


2. Gaps and Holes

Many roof structures contain gaps and holes, particularly during the construction phase, which workers could be at risk of falling through. When tasks require working close to gaps, clearly mark the openings and cover them with weight bearing material where possible. Alternatively, use edge protection to guard the opening.

When the above strategies cannot reduce the risk to a safe level, consider a Mobile Elevated Working Platform (MEWP), safety netting or PFPE.


3. Fragile Surfaces

Avoid work on fragile roof structures at all costs. Fragile roofs which are unable to safely support the weight of a team member are particularly dangerous as they can be hidden hazards. Ensure a competent, fully trained individual assesses roof fragility before work commences. There must be complete confidence in the integrity of a roof structure before workers begin their task.

A MEWP can provide a safe alternative. If worker access to the fragile surface is unavoidable, ensure a safety nets or harness system can be utilised safely.


4. Sloping Roofs

Sloping roofs can be more hazardous than flat surfaces as they can cause workers to slide and lose their balance. Ideally, work on sloped roofs should be prevented. It is not safe to work on slates or tiles as their smooth surface does not provide safe footing. Such surfaces can be especially slippery in wet conditions.

Reinforce edge protection at eaves levels so it is able to support the larger force of a fall down a sloped roof. Force will be magnified on steeper, longer roofs. Sloping roofs also require specialised ladders systems for safe access.


5. Falling Objects

Remember, rooftop working doesn’t just create risks to those on the roof. Falling tools or debris can be highly dangerous to people below the working area. Remind workers not to leave materials or tools lying loose on working platforms. These can cause a trip hazard or could even be blown off the roof in bad weather.

Restrict access to the ground below the working area use designated rubbish shoots for safe waste disposable. To stop dropped tools becoming a hazard, invest in tool tethering equipment and train your team to use it safely.


At HITEWORX we provide safe access solutions including MEWPs, rooftop walkways, edge protection and specialist ladders. From site survey to design, build, certification and inspection, we’ll take care of your project from start to finish. Talk to a member of the HITEWORX team today on: 0333 234 1801.