Is It Safe to Get on My Roof?

If you think the roof on your Wakefield property has experienced damage following a storm or you want to clear the autumn leaves from your gutters, it can be tempting to go up there and take care of things yourself. However, getting up on your roof, or asking an employee to do so, carries many risks.

Here, we take a look at the dangers of accessing your roof and at why bringing in trained and accredited roofing professionals is always the best option.

Why is roof access important?

There are times when you might need someone to access your roof. Aside from a full roof replacement, one of the obvious and most common reasons is gutter clearance and maintenance. Checking and clearing the guttering are jobs that need doing each year as part of your annual roof maintenance. Roof access may also be required to investigate possible damage and to undertake roof repairs, such as loose tiling or issues with a flat roof.

Some of the simpler roofing tasks may seem like they could be carried out by the property owner without the expense of calling in a professional roofing firm. However, there are many reasons to think again.

What are the dangers of getting on your roof?

The obvious risk is of injury or even death if you fall off a roof. Injuries which can be sustained from a fall from height can include bone breaks and fractures, bruising and head trauma, including concussion.

When it comes to fatalities, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) notes that one in five deaths which occur during building work involve roofs. Incidents cited include falls from roof edges and openings or through fragile roofs and rooflights.

Similarly, if you run a company and an employee or an unlicensed third-party worker falls from or through the roof while undertaking work on your property, you can leave yourself liable from a legal standpoint. Incidents could lead to prosecution and a possible fine under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, such as this example from the HSE, which cost the employer nearly £5,000 after a worker suffered a fractured vertebrae and bruising.

Beyond the risk of bodily harm, there is the chance that an untrained person might cause further damage to the roof or make an existing problem worse, leading to more costly repairs. Indeed, as noted, many incidents involve a person falling through a fragile structure, potentially turning a straightforward repair into a full roof replacement.

What does safe roof access entail?

If you require someone to access your roof, there are certain safety measures which should be in place to protect not only those working on the roof but those below who might be injured if an object falls from height during the work.

Legally, anyone working on your roof should ensure compliance with the provisions of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. More widely, the HSE notes that incidents involving roofs could be avoided if the correct equipment is used by workers who have the right information, instruction, training and supervision. Equipment commonly used to access a roof include:

  • Scaffolding
  • Stair towers
  • Properly secured ladders
  • Roof access hatches

A further piece of equipment often used is the cherry picker, which can provide safe high level access. Any roof access equipment used should be well maintained and operated by a trained professional. When it comes to the different types of roofs, specific considerations include:

Sloping roofs

One of the key safety measures for this kind of roof is edge protection placed on the eaves at the rear and front of the property and, if applicable, neighbouring terraces. This acts as a guardrail to protect workers accessing the roof in the event they slide down the sloped surface. Scaffolding is usually put in place around the property, in case something falls from the roof, such as tiles or tools.

Flat roofs

While a flat roof might seem safer to access, this type of roof requires similar protective measures. These usually take the form of a double guardrail to prevent falls from the roof, as well as a toe board around the edge to protect against items falling from the roof on to someone below.

Fragile roofs

With fragile structures, a platform beneath the roof is often deployed to protect workers in case the roof gives way under their weight. Other safety elements might include guard rails, fall restraints and safety nets. Additional protective measures are used for rooflights, such as covers and barriers. The HSE recommends all roofs are treated as potentially fragile until a roofing expert has had the chance to ascertain its true condition.

As you can see, safe roof access is a multi-faceted process designed to ensure everyone’s wellbeing while the works are being carried out. So, it is important that a trained person or team is brought in to plan and execute the work.

Your safety is paramount

Nipping up to the roof to investigate what sounds like a simple loose tile rattling or getting out the ladder to clear those clogged gutters may seem like a quick DIY job. However, the consequences can be expensive and potentially catastrophic. So, whatever the scenario, we recommend that you never climb on to or stand on your roof, unless you have been trained to do so.

It is always better to contact a professional and accredited roofing company, which can offer advice and, if roof access is required to carry out inspections or repairs, do so safely. With DPR Roofing, you are assured high levels of health and safety compliance, guaranteeing that any work we undertake on your Wakefield roof will be completed efficiently and with the utmost care.

Call in the experts

At DPR Roofing in Wakefield, we provide expert roofing services to homes and businesses across Wakefield. Whether you need your gutters cleared out, your tiles repaired or your roof replaced, we carry out the work professionally and safely. Contact us today on 01924 255 677 to discuss your roofing concerns or to find out more about our services.