Autumn Roof Maintenance - Your Responsibilities
By Mark Dolan, General Manager, Roof Edge Fabricatioins
With Autumn fully upon us and the trees losing their leaves, many companies will be planning to clear guttering and sweep away fallen leaves. But before you employ someone to carry out the work for you, take a step back and think about what needs doing and how you’re going to ensure that the work can be carried out safely.
Remember Your Duties
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 requires companies to ensure the health and safety of their employees, and any contractors carrying out work on their behalf. In other words, if you contract someone to access your roof to sweep away debris or clear your gutters, you are legally required to make sure that the correct safety measures are in place before any work is carried out.
Your first should always be to carry out a risk assessment; this should include an assessment of whether the work really does need to be carried out at height. When assessing roof safety, you need to think about how frequently access will be required and by whom.
Once you’ve completed the risk assessment and you’ve determined that the work at height is unavoidable, your main priority must be to provide a safe environment and prevent falls from height. Following the Work at Height Regulations, in particular the hierarchy of control, will help you to decide upon the best solution, including the most appropriate equipment.
Collective measures such as scaffolding, guardrails or safety nets are always the preferred option to personal measures as personal measures involve someone wearing PPE such as a harness and clipping on to an anchorage point or system.
Always Ensure Competency
Carrying out a risk assessment and installing the appropriate equipment is only part of the solution when it comes to safety and preventing a fall from height. There’s no question that work at height is extremely dangerous, so you need to make sure that anyone accessing an area at height, has adequate training and supervision and is competent to carry out the work.
If you are hiring someone to carry out the work on your behalf, it’s essential that you check their credentials (see our Checking on Competency Blog for more information). Never assume that they now how to or will work safely, ask for a method statement so you can check they’ve assessed the work properly and plan to have the appropriate safety measures in place.
Always make sure that the work is planned, supervised and carried out safely by competent people, even if it’s short term work such as roof repair or cleaning. Remember, you will be the one held accountable if there is an accident, so if you’re unsure about any aspect of work at height, always seek professional advice.