The dangers of accessing plant and equipment on roofs

Roofs are a common place for plant and equipment such as air conditioning and vents to be installed.

Though locating them on the top of your building might be a popular choice to preserve ground space and building aesthetics, this positioning can create a risk during maintenance and installation due to the inherent need to access the roof.

According to the work at height hierarchy of controls, which sets out guidelines to ensure the safety of those accessing the roof, an attempt should be made in the first instance to avoid work at height entirely. 

This begins right at the design stage, where installers and even architects should plan their designs to reduce or even entirely negate the need for roof access by making plant and machinery easy to access, such as at ground level.

If this is impractical, i.e. there is minimal or no space on the ground, and the equipment must be installed on the roof, then the next step on the hierarchy would be to protect those accessing the roof using the correct roof safety equipment.

In the first instance, collective (or ‘non-user participant’) equipment should be used. This term describes equipment that will remain functional and offer a level of protection even if the user is not actively attached or trained specifically in its use, such as guardrail.

According to the hierarchy, you should first take advantage of areas which are already protected by a suitable safety system. If there is no system in place, then the correct solution should be implemented prior to the installation of the plant equipment to ensure no one is put at risk.

Your safety responsibilities do not stop once the equipment is in place. You should ensure that it can be easily and safely accessed, by providing clear demarcated routes across the roof, as well as safety systems fit for the type of work required.

Risks to those carrying out work on roofs go beyond the edge of the building. When performing this work, you might encounter various obstacles such as sudden changes in level, or trip hazards including cable beds or pipework

The Safesite solution

Safesite offers a range of safe access equipment to allow maintenance of plant and equipment to be carried out as safely as possible.

Plant and equipment will often create a lot of pipework, ductwork and cabling which can prevent the smooth movement from one part of the roof to another. In this scenario, Step-Overs are a fantastic, effective solution.

Modular and hard-wearing, our Step-Over systems can be provided either off-the-shelf or custom designed to your requirements, in galvanised steel or aluminium.

Our Step-Overs are fully compliant with current regulations and standards, such as the Work at Height Regulations and EN: 14122 part 3 and 4.

For lower obstacles which present a risk but might not require a full sized system, we also offer Mini Step-Overs.

If your roof features sudden changes in level, for example, if it is built across several buildings of varying height, we can supply and install Bespoke Access Platforms. Built from the same modular iron or aluminium Kee fittings as our Step-Over systems, our platforms are incredibly durable and ideal for long term protection.

It is important that workers are provided with a clear and safe, demarcated route across the roof. Safesite offers this in the form of our Kee Walk system, available with or without guardrail.

Kee Walk can either be fixed to the roof or fitted free-standing, and can be used on flat, barrel or sloping roofs, with step and traverse options allowing for roof pitches up to 35°. The glass reinforced nylon tread prevent slippage, even in adverse weather conditions, and protects the roof beneath from damage caused by foot traffic.

Where the walkway approaches unprotected roof edges, it can be supplied with guardrail, protecting workers and negating the need for a user-reliant safety system such as lifelines. Both versions of Kee Walk are compliant to EN 516, and Kee Walk with Guardrail is compliant to 14122-3 & EN 13374, the current standard for edge protection.

All of our safe access and safety systems can be combined to provide a full safety solution, ensuring anyone accessing your roof to maintain or repair plant and equipmwent can do so with ease, in complete safety.

For more information about any of our safety or safe access solutions, call us on 01293 529977, or use our online contact form.


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