Navigating the Risks of Roof Obstacles

In the past few decades, despite the introduction of work at height regulations, modern roofs can still be a minefield of obstacles and trip hazards.

Despite numerous interventions, falls from height remain the leading cause of death for deaths in the construction industry, accounting for 50% of deaths in 2021. The construction sector accounts for 6% of the workforce in the UK. Fatalities are not the only issue. In 2021, almost 3000 non-fatal injuries were reported in the construction sector, with falls from height, slips and trips accounting for one-third of these.

Construction is not the only Sector that involves roof work. Many other industries need safe roof access, such as maintenance, engineering, and agriculture, so it’s imperative to prevent these accidents from happening,

https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/industry/construction.pdf

Roofs can contain anything from cables, pipework and ducts, and air conditioning to fragile surfaces meaning those needing to access a roof can find the task extremely difficult.

Construction (Design & Management Regulations) state that these obstacles should be considered and managed in the design phase of a project, but it is not always possible to do this.

In the project’s design phase, any equipment for the roof that requires maintenance should be located at ground level. If it is later installed on a rooftop, it should be placed in an area with safety equipment such as guardrails.

Sometimes, locations for plants and pipework and ducts can create obstacles, even with the best design. Suppose you are a project manager or building owner responsible for site safety. In that case, it is your responsibility to ensure that these obstacles can be safely navigated, preventing the risk of falls.

 

The Risks of Rooftops.

Working at height will always pose a risk to workers, and as such, you should always avoid it. However, sometimes workers will need to access a roof for essential maintenance or repairs, so you need to ensure it is safe for them to do so.

The primary danger on a roof is open edges, but these are not the only danger; obstacles such as changes in level or pipes can present dangerous trip hazards. There are also risks from fragile materials on the roof or unprotected skylights.

 

What can you do?

As a person responsible for a roof, you must be aware of the risks and dangers and implement the correct solution.

Firstly, you should carry out a comprehensive risk assessment.

Common obstacles on a rooftop can be things like cables, which may not always be apparent to the eye, especially if they are the same colour as the roof. It can also include more significant obstacles like plant equipment or changes in the roof level.

These hazards can force a worker to find an alternative route across the roof, which could be less efficient and pose a greater risk.

The best solution for this is a clear demarcation system around the roof, coupled with stepover platforms, an access platform allowing workers to safely traverse an obstacle without finding alternative riskier routes around the rooftop.

Stepover platforms can be provided as off-the-shelf items or created as a bespoke solution, depending on your rooftop needs.

Minor trip hazards such as cables can be safely traversed with smaller stepover platforms.

APS Safety Systems are Scotland’s premium providers of Kee Step stepover platforms. Kee Step stepovers are suitable for all weathers and environments. Our stepovers can be left permanently on a rooftop, they’re made of corrosion-resistant materials and the Global Market leading Kee Klamp fittings.

Kee Step provides a safe means of access up and over obstacles on rooftops and other environments such as warehouses, factories, and maintenance plants. Our modular, secure access stepover platforms create a bridge over trip hazards and obstacles such as industrial machinery, pipework and cables and can be used on many roof types.

APS Safety Systems supplies pre-assembled stepover platforms to suit all roof types, including concrete, asphalt, membrane, PVC, and mini stepovers for safe access over low-level obstacles.

The Kee Step stepover platforms are easy to assemble and maintain. Large stepovers are designed under EN14122-3, and our smaller mini step-overs, are compliant with EN516 Class 1-C.

Once installed, the Kee Step stepover provides safe up-and-over access for individual purposes or as part of a demarcation system, creating a safe walking route across the roof, keeping your workers safe.

Combine Kee Step with Other Systems

Kee Step can be combined with a complete roof walkway system such as Kee Walk Safe Rooftop Walkway, ensuring workers have a marked route.

The Kee Walk Safe Rooftop Walkway is an anti-slip rooftop walkway designed for essential maintenance personnel and other workers. The walkway is an ideal safe access solution for rooftop work since it raises the walking surface and protects the roof from footfall damage.

In many cases, workers must avoid some areas of a roof altogether. The roof walkway system is perfect for this as it provides a clear, safe route around a designated working area of the roof. Kee Walk can also be installed with a Guardrail system attached, making it a fully collective protective system that requires no Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or training for the users.

When there are additional fragile skylight hazards, you can use the Kee Cover or Kee Dome systems. Ultimately combining several safety solutions provides the best safe access for workers on a roof.

Our ready-made stepover platforms are designed under UK and EU safety standards. Bespoke units can be designed to suit your project.

Working with APS

Whether it’s an off-the-shelf or bespoke solution, we can provide the proper safety system for your requirements.

Our highly trained engineers will conduct site surveys to help determine the way forward and provide you with the right safety solution based upon your project drawings/information and budget. Our designs take into consideration all relevant standards and legislation, ensuring full conformity.

We provide a full installation service, although it is possible to install off-the-shelf systems yourself with our simple, easy-to-fit modular designs. We provide annual and six-monthly inspections and maintenance of your equipment, ensuring it is always safe, reliable, and fit for purpose, keeping your workers and maintenance teams safe. We also provide on and off-site training for your health and safety needs.

Looking to start a project? please speak to our qualified team today.