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Health and Safety in Roof Construction

Health and safety in roof construction plays an important role in this particular type of activity because it is considered to be a high risk activity to work at height.

According to the statistical data, roofing workers make up about 1/4 of all the workers who were killed in falls from height during their work. (Culvenor, Else)

It is known that the main reasons of the falls from roofs are connected with fragile materials which include roof lights, asbestos cement roofing sheets and others. Some roofers have got serious injuries which can be related to permanent disabilities. (Health and Safety in Roof Work)

That is why it is very important to pay special attention to health and safety during roofing works.
My goal in this project is to identify and assess the health and safety risks associated for the works to be carried out for roofing and cladding of the building and to give some recommendations and solutions which will help to avoid these risks.

Risks Identified regarding Health and Safety

Roof work can be very dangerous if no precautions have been taken by the roof workers and by the project supervisors whose duty is to minimize all the risks connected with roofing work. According to the Regulations of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, the project supervisors must prepare an appropriate Safety and Health Plan. Designers of the project should know the major risks regarding Health and Safety of the roofing work. (Health and Safety in Roof Work)

In our case we have a four storey multi purpose facility complex which will include leisure, art gallery, lectures, seminars, conferencing and car park. As a new building will be an independent structure, it will have the risks regarding Health and Safety of the highest level.

The major risks are connected with falls from the roof which can occur in the following situations:

  • Falls from the edge of roof. In our case this type of risks is the most probable because the roofing works on the four storey construction which consists of four levels will be carried out on the edge of the roof.
  • Falls through holes in roofs can also take place because the roofing work is organized in such a way that it requires step-by-step works. Some holes may be left by the roofing workers that is why this risk should be taken into consideration by the designers while drawing up a plan.
  • The risks connected with falls through fragile roof materials and roofing lights. In our case it is very important to check the quality of the roof materials which will be used in work.
  • One more risk is connected with negligence and carelessness of roof workers who can easily throw building material from the roof. This fact should also be taken into consideration.
  • Some risks are connected with falls from the roof and other injuries of those people who maintain, clean and inspect the roof. That is why some certain precautions should be taken before these accidents. (Suruda, et al.)

In our case the roof will be a profiled aluminum standing seam roof with PVF2 coating, complete with breather membrane and vapor barrier, and with acrylic coated aluminum inner tray supported on steel space deck. This type of roof is considered to be a difficult one that is why it requires certain efforts to be made both by the designers and by the roofers in order to avoid possible risks.

All the risks should be identified before the beginning of the work. Moreover, all the necessary precautions, appropriate working equipment and systems should be implemented and checked. (Precautions for All Roof Work)

Solutions and Recommendations for the Risks

In our case, solutions and recommendations for the risks will be connected with the following precautions which will help to avoid the above mentioned risks:

  • it is necessary to use a proper roofing ladder for this or that work as different ladders serve different purposes, such as roofing, cladding and others. Besides, the ladder should be properly secured. All the workers should be informed of the appropriate precautions.
  • It is necessary to provide special edge protection which will consist of several lines of defence: a major guard rail which will be about 920 mm above the edge; a toe board which will be about 200 mm high; a middle guard barrier. (Personic)
  • It is required to provide a special working platform which will help to work in those places where there is no platform.
  • The use of special safety nets will help to avoid accidents too. It is necessary to provide appropriate harnesses for all the roof workers. The safety nets should be properly installed by the specialists in order to reduce the distance in case of a fall from roof. The harnesses should also be carefully checked and properly secured. (Parsons)
  • It is recommended to use enclosed rubbish shoots for unused material and debris in order to lower it down to the ground.
  • It is very important to fence the danger area in order to close the access and to avoid risks of accidents. In our case this precaution is very important because our construction is located in a place of public access. The building will be constructed on the existing carpark at the University’s Campus along Lewes Road, situated between the Watts building and the former territorial army building. In this place public access is close to the roofing works. As it is known that the construction should be completed within a single academic year it will be necessary to carry out the construction work throughout the year.(Fall Protection for Roof Work)
  • All the roofing workers should be trained and should know their duties. The should have the following skills: securing harness systems, providing edge protection, operating and using the mobile working platform.
  • It is forbidden to carry out roof works in bad weather. Wind, ice and rain can damage the roofing work and can lead to accidents and deaths.
  • Sometimes it will be a right decision to provide a short duration work on the roof in order to avoid risks. For example, if the weather is too hot or if it is too cloudy. (Parsons)
  • It is necessary to check all the building materials which will be used on roof for fragility. This inspection should be done before the roofing works.
  • The appropriate warning signs should be displayed on the roof in order to prevent unauthorized access.
  • System of work on roof should be properly planned in order to reduce the risks. The roof workers should not walk along the roof without any purpose. (Personic)
  • It is recommended to use trolley system which will facilitate the roofing work to a high degree.
  • It is necessary to reduce the manual handling on the roof. All the work should be done by means of appropriate mechanical handling devices.
  • Brief inspections on the roof should be carried out regularly in order to avoid any risks.
  • All the roof workers should abide the rules and keep the discipline. (Height Absolutely Safe)


In conclusion, it is necessary to say that roofing work is a serious one because it is connected with a great deal of risks. All the risks can easily lead to accident, injuries and even deaths. That is why the roofing work should be done only by well-qualified specialists who know the appropriate rules of work on roof and can easily use the appropriate materials to protect themselves from fall. The roofing work should be well organized and thoroughly controlled by supervisors. In our case the roofing work is a rather difficult one and requires good skills and experience of the roof workers.


Works Cited

Culvenor, J., Else, J. Finding Occupational Injury Solutions. The Impact of Training in Creative Thinking. Safety Science, 1997. Print.
Health and Safety in Roof Work. Third Edition. Health and Safety Executive. 2008. Available from:<http://www.scribd.com>
Height Absolutely Safe. Essential Health and Safety Information for People who Work at Height. 2009. Print. Available from:<http://www.hse.gov.uk>
Fall Protection for Roof Work. Work Safe. April, 2011. Available from:<http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au>
Parsons, T. Safety Analysis of High Risk Injury Categories within the Roofing Industry. Professional Safety. June, 1999. Print.
Personic, Martin. Profiles in Safety and Health: Roofing and Sheet Metal Work. Monthly Labour Review. 1990.
Precautions for All Roof Work. A Plant. 2009. Available from:<http://www.aplant.com>
Suruda, A., Fosbroke, D., Bradee, D. Fatal Work-Related Falls from Roofs. Journal of Safety Research. 1995. Print.