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Caught On Camera! Roofing Safety Failure
Posted by David Cant on December 16, 2014
1 Comment

Caught On Camera! Roofing Safety Failure

safety-ropeDid you know that 24% of people killed falling from heights are roofers?

Well, just in case you still thought it was ever worth skimping on the health and safety front on a roof, here’s a story that’ll have you cringing down to your toes.

When a Berkshire construction firm thought it could get away with playing silly buggers – and skipping basic health and safety measures like guarded ladders or rails – they probably didn’t imagine what would happen next.

That is, one very concerned citizen taking snapshots of their pretty dodgy site – and sending off the package for the HSE to cast its careful eye over.

Cue: an investigation, lots of embarrassment, and a pretty hefty fine – to the tune of ten grand.

So what mistakes did they make, and what should you be doing to keep your roofing site safe?

Plan for safety

These guys failed to plan out their work, what specialist equipment was needed, and what safety measures to have.

Planning things out should be top of your list before you touch a single slate! Got it?

Provide protection

It goes without saying that working from any height is dangerous at the best of times.

Throw in a complete failure to include basic safety precautions like edge protection, a safety parapet, or even a safety net or beanbag on the ground, and you might start to question if you’re in the right line of work.

Always take measures to prevent – or at least minimise – the consequences of a fall, and train all staff on the correct way to use safety equipment. 

Provide safe access

An unguarded ladder should be a total “d’oh!” moment for any roofing professional, right?

If you’re going to provide access to heights, you need to make sure they’re completely safe. Scaffolding, ladders or towers should be correctly set up according to their manuals, at a safe height, and used by trained, competent people.

They should be stable and properly fitted, to prevent collapse or falls.

Surprise, surprise – these guys didn’t do any of this.

Handle materials safely

When you’re going up and down with a lot of materials, it can be easy to lose sight of basic safety.

But planning out your job beforehand makes keeping it safe a lot easier.

Try to minimise the time spent at heights to collect materials. Organise it so you can do it as quickly and safely as possible.

Avoid lugging heavy and unwieldy materials like roof sheets or trusses by hand – use lifting appliances or hoists whenever possible. Short cuts are never worth it!

Your take-away points

  • Plan what you’re going to do first – what will you need and what risks will you face?
  • Add safety precautions to the site to avoid falls and protect people in case of falls.
  • Make sure all access to heights is safe and stable.
  • Avoid handling materials at heights for long times, and where possible, use lifting appliances.

What safety clangers have you come across while working on roofs? Let us know!


Director at Veritas Consulting. 20+ years as a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner with a brain you can pick. A trusted, risk savvy portfolio professional who is fluent in practical advice and an effective workplace solutionist.

You can find him on - Twitter and Facebook also Linkedin

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One Comment

  1. roofingfirm
    January 23, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Rooftop safety is the responsibility of every person involved in the project. The hazards are always there, but identifying them and adhering to the use of fall protection can avoid a lot of injuries and deaths. When wearing a harness, make sure the lanyard is the right length.

    roofing firm

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