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Working on roofs

  • Irrespective of the height and roof pitch, it is necessary to secure workers if there is a particular risk of them falling or if falling from the roof would be particularly hazardous.
  • It is necessary to secure materials and tools to prevent them sliding down or being thrown down by the wind.
  • Working beside or on overhangs and similar can be made safer using scaffolding.
  • When selecting safety arrangements, it is necessary to attach importance to the nature of the work, the weather conditions, the nature of the roof surface, what workers could fall down into/onto, a combination of the above factors, etc.
  • Holes in the roof surface must always be made secure by means of railings, or a stable cover.

Flat roofs below 15 degrees

It is necessary to set up railings along the edge of the roof if work is being carried out or workers are on roofs with a pitch of less than 15°, and if at the same time the edge of the roof is more than 3.5 m above ground level.

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If work is being carried out on a non-slip surface and in good wind and weather conditions, it is possible under special conditions to decide not to establish railings at up to 5 m above ground level.

It is possible to replace the railings with a clear, durable marker 2 m from the edge of the roof if the work does not require workers to come closer than 2 m to the edge of the roof. In this instance, workers must not enter the area outside this marker or place materials outside the marker.

The marker must as a minimum consist of cones with marker strips, chains or similar between them. Barrier tape must not be used.

If the top of a wall is to act as a rail, it must be at least 1 m high.

Sloping roofs above 15 degrees

When working on sloping roofs, workers must be secured against falling if the base of the roof is more than 2 m above ground level and staff are working or present at a height above 5 metres.

If scaffolding is used for safety when working on pitched roofs, this must be provided with a screen which can arrest the fall of anyone falling from the roof. This screen must be at least 1 m high and cover a parallel line 1 m above the surface of the roof. Use steel mesh, plywood panelling or similar, for example.
The working floor of the scaffolding must at the most be 0.5 m below the base of the roof.

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Additional requirements
Be aware that basement entrances, light shafts, sharp objects and similar which constitute a hazard in connection with falling will require safety arrangements in all instances, irrespective of the fall height.

Roofs with a pitch of 15° or more:
Use roof ladders if the roof is smooth, unless walking on the laths is acceptable.

Roofs with a pitch of 34° or more:
Set up a screen so that no employee is working at any time more than 5 m vertically from the nearest screen.

Always use roof ladders, unless walking on the laths is acceptable.

Roofs with a pitch of more than 60°:
Set up a screen so that no employee is working at any time more than 2 m vertically from the nearest screen.

Always use roof ladders, unless walking on the laths is acceptable.

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Requirements for railings when working on roofs

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Railings constructed on the building site

Railings constructed on the building site must be designed in accordance with EN/DS standard 13374 relating to temporary railings, or at least comply with a corresponding safety level.

Wood used for railings must be of good commercial quality and without large, continuous knots or any other features that may impair the strength of the timber. In other words, class C16 wood in accordance with the standard must be used as a minimum.

Railings must be able to withstand a person leaning up against them or falling into them, and they must be capable of providing support when people walk along the railings. These posts must be able to withstand a spot load of 1.25 kN (equivalent to approx. 125 kg) at the point where the hand rail is secured without them being displaced by more than 25 mm from their original position.

Working at ends

Railings must always be set up if staff are working less than 2 m from the end of the roof.

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The railings will be established with a safety level corresponding to class A railings with a height of at least 1 metre.

In exceptional circumstances, it is possible to use suitable fall protection equipment to prevent falls during short-term work lasting no more than 4 hours.

Working on existing roofs

Thoroughly examine the structure and load bearing capacity of the roof before starting repair or renovation work.

Some roofs have roof cladding or lath bases which cannot bear the weight of someone standing on them. This is true of – for example – clear corrugated panels, glass panels, PVC panels and most Eternit panels if the c-c distance between laths is greater than 0.46 m.
If the laths are unable to bear a load, they must be replaced with laths sorted according to strength, marked T1 and labelled with the name of the manufacturer.
Walkways with railings towards the open roof can protect staff from falling through. Hang a safety net between the walkways.

Never use a safety net as your only protection. This will not prevent anyone falling through the roof.

Roof walkways

Use firm roof walkways to enhance safety and to prevent roofers straining their leg muscles more than is necessary.

Roof walkways and platforms should generally be horizontal so that it is easy to move about on the roof.