Falling from a height is one of the leading causes of fatalities and injuries, accounting for 25% of deaths in the construction industry. And yet, roof falls are preventable. With a few height safety systems in place, you could protect yourself and your workforce from potential injury or worse.
Read on to discover our top eight height safety solutions to ensure you climb up on your roof risk-free.
Why Should You Implement Roof Safety Solutions?
While a single story might not seem very high, it can cause severe injuries if you were to fall. Imagine working at a great height, several stories up, without the proper roof safety systems. Without taking the time to consider height safety concerns, you risk your own life and those of your workers.
Anything from roof repairs and installation to window cleaning puts you at risk of falling. Not only should you follow Australian standards and compliance on your project, but go above and beyond to ensure all workers can safely access high environments.
Top 8 Roof Safety Systems
So, what are the roof safety systems you should implement to ensure safe access to new and existing buildings?
1. Safe Rail Barriers
Safe rail barriers surrounding the roof’s edges are a passive roof safety solution that could save many workers from falling. There is a range of rail barriers available, from free standing to parapet barriers. A simple barrier keeps people away from the edge, where they could fall easily.
2. Overhead Rails
Overhead rail systems mean your crew can move equipment and machinery at height freely and safely without risk of fall, injury, or harm to others. With multiple uses, overhead rails enable a quick and risk-reduced safety system for everyone to use. Furthermore, overhead rails mean you can reach trickier places without unnecessary risk.
3. Anchor Points
Roof anchor points allow your crew to attach themselves to a secure spot on the roof when at great heights. Roof anchor systems work on various roofing materials, including concrete, metal, and roof tiles. When attached to the roof, employees can work freely without the worry of falling far and with an extensive range of movement.
4. Ladder Systems
Ladders are an essential part of any roof safety system. How else do you climb up and down from the roof? However, improper use of ladders can lead to additional risk and harm to your team. Ensure your site uses a high-quality, Australian Standards compliant ladder and properly educate your employees on ladder safety.
5. Platforms and Walkways
Roofs are not made for walking around and often have uneven flooring. Installing proper walkways with slip-resistant surfaces and handrails. Platforms and walkways ensure everyone follows best practices and maintains their own safety when high up on a building. Plus, it enables quick and safe access to equipment.
6. Roof Access Hatches
Roof access hatches are a safe way to ensure internal roof access to the top of the building. Access hatches are particularly valuable for long-term projects and new constructions. However, you can also install access systems to existing buildings.
7. Fall Protection Systems
In case of the worst scenario – someone falling off the roof – you need fall arrest systems for proper height safety. Effective fall arrest systems prevent significant injury or fatality by limiting falls. Harnesses, grab rails, guard rails, static line systems, ladder ties, and cables are all essential parts of your fall protection system.
8. Safety Audits, Protection, and Reporting
Finally, regular inspections, audits, and reporting on your safety measures are the best ways to ensure all your protocols work as effectively as possible. Ensure all your employees and crew understand safety procedures and act on them, with a system to report and protect those who breach safety guidelines.
Moreover, regular checks will ensure you sport malfunctioning or broken equipment before it puts someone at risk.
Roles and Responsibilities
Everyone on a worksite must look after their safety and the safety of those around them. As a leader or crewmember on roof spaces or high up, it’s your responsibility to assess and identify potential hazards.
Management and Control
If you’re in charge, you’re ultimately responsible for everyone’s safety. As far as it is reasonable and practical, you must ensure that the workplace has minimal risks. Ensure that there are clear means of entering and exiting the workspace, with clear access control to prevent trespassers or anyone from wandering where they shouldn’t.
As the leader, you need to encourage a safety-aware atmosphere to make sure your workers feel that they can raise concerns and point out potential hazards.
Workers and Contractors
If you’re an employee or contractor in a roof space work environment, you must take reasonable care to protect yourself and others. Works must comply with safety instructions and protocols. Where safety measures and height safety systems are implemented, ensure you follow procedures responsibly.
How to Assess a Site With Roofs
As with all construction sites, you must assess the work area before beginning to build or repair. Firstly, ask yourself whether you need to work on the roof? If your project is not directly related to the roof, are there safer means of accessing your workspace? If you do need the roof, what is the safest way to access the high space?
Consider the following questions:
- How high is the roof?
- What is the roof made of? Is the material strong enough to support workers?
- Are only experienced workers accessing the roof?
- How will workers ascend and descend from the roof?
- How will weather exposure affect working on the roof?
- How will you lift equipment and machinery onto the roof?
- How will you supervise workers on the roof?
Roof Safety Solutions
You should always carry out the necessary safety checks and remind all workers of their responsibility whenever you work in high environments. Ensure you adopt the relevant safety mechanics, such as handrails, edge barriers, and platforms or walkways. If in doubt about your workers’ experience, don’t let them onto the roof spaces. Always let the roofing professionals handle anything you’re unsure of.