January 18, 2016

Roof construction is one of the most hazardous aspects of the entire building sector, with the dangers of working at height well documented.

The practice is even more dangerous in winter, when low temperatures can combine to create slip hazards, ice can form in gaps and expand, snow and blizzards can reduce visibility, and a number of other dangers can form.

In order to safeguard installers and all other individuals who operate on roofs, a number of guidelines are in publication, ranging from the Health and Safety Executive’s law on working at height, to RoSPA’s guidelines on roof-related occupational activity.

However, when it comes to the specifics of roof working, comprehensive guidance is provided by the Advisory Committee for Roofsafety (ACR).

The ACR works very closely with the Metal Cladding and Roofing Manufacturers Association (MCRMA) to make all those who operate in the industry aware of the vast amount of guidance available to help maximise safety and reduce dangers.

In winter, when even greater vigilance is required across all aspects of building and roofing work, the guidance takes on an added dimension.

As well as providing its own checklist around the non-fragility of roofs, the MCRMA also details the exact nature of each aspect of ACR guidance for operators across every sector.

In total, seven books are available that each examine aspects of roof work and the safety around it, covering a number of elements, namely:

  • Guidance on competence and general fitness requirements to work on roofs (Black Book)
  • Recommended practice for use of safety nets for roof work (Blue Book)
  • Safe working on fragile roofs or roofs with fragile elements (Green Book)
  • Recommended practice for use of horizontal safety systems in roofwork and testing of roof anchors on roof systems (Magenta Book)
  • Recommended practice for work on profiled sheeted roofs and accompanying commentary (Orange Book)
  • Practical methods of providing edge protection for working on roofs (Purple Book)
  • Testing for non-fragility of large element roofing assemblies (Red Book)

A number of information sheets from the ACR also detail best practice across several processes in the roofing industry, including selecting a competent roofing contractor, the safe handling of solar collectors and other large items on roofs, and planning minor roof works, as well as information relating to the 4 BS EN 795 and 89/686/EEC Directive.

Steadmans advises that all professionals follow these guidelines and adhere to safety best practice, as well as using high quality equipment and materials at all times, to help maintain a safe working environment not only in winter, but throughout the year.