Worldwide, falls from height are still killing more construction workers than any other hazard presented by building construction and despite us being aware of the risks involved, many workers are still going at this type of work in the wrong way, risking their own health and safety.
One of the most common types of falls occurs when working from a rooftop and because working from rooftops are usually not a daily task of people’s jobs many people tend to ignore the risks and their training in an effort to save time – this is a fatal mistake.
An article on SimplifiedSafety.com recently discussed the perils of ignoring the risks of rooftop work. According to the post’s writer when you consider the number of activities that are conducted from a rooftop, it is important that every workplace has a plan in place for this type of work. In Australia having a safe work method statement for work from a rooftop is not only smart but it is part of OHS law.
Some of the activities that take place from a rooftop include:
Servicing of Security and Surveillance Equipment
Window Washing Preparation
According to health and safety law in Oz businesses have to conduct a hazard identification and risk assessment before proceeding with work and working from a rooftop is one of those activities that needs to form part of this process. Each rooftop is different, as is the tasks that will be conducted so no 2 hazard identifications, risk assessments or controls will be the same but the article on SimplifiedSafety.com did provide some general principles that can be applied to keep workers just a little bit safer when conducting this work.
According to the article the first aspect to note is Access Points and how people will access the roof. Commonly people use roof hatches, walk out doors, exterior stairs and ladders to access rooftops and each of these have issues that need to be considered:
Are there railings around the roof hatch? When the hatch is open, it is a hole in the roof.
Is the hatch dangerously close to a roof edge?
Are there any trip hazards around walk-out doors?
Are permanently attached ladders in good repair? The ladder should be rust free and securely attached to the wall.
Are there self-closing gates on access points such as hatches and ladders?
If people are accessing the roof at night, is proper lighting in place?
Are access points properly secured? Ensure that access doors remain locked and that exterior stairs cannot be accessed by an unauthorized person.
The next things we need to consider are the unprotected edges and open sides of the roof. This is the most obvious way that a fall can occur, so common sense would dictate that people guard against this hazard first.
There are various roof edge protections available and if eliminating the hazard completely is not a viable option, then installing a perimeter protection using a roof guardrail would be the next best choice. If this is not possible the writer of the post suggests applying spot protection by identifying the areas of the roof that pose direct hazards to workers – typically a roof edge near a walking surface or work surface.
There are also other forms of protection that can be considered including horizontal lifelines as well as personal fall protection.
The article on the Simplified Safety blog goes on to describe the other aspects to consider when it comes to working from roof tops such as establishing safe walking paths, selecting correct rooftop equipment as well as rooftop openings. Visit http://simplifiedsafety.com/blog/how-to-perform-a-rooftop-safety-audit/ to read the full post!