Top tips to identify suitable safety equipment

Apr 5, 2019

Despite the obvious dangers that arise when working on roofs, falls from height still remain the highest cause of workplace accidents. To help lower this worrying number of injuries from falls each year, Jamie Brassington, Product Manager at WernerCo, discusses how roofers can ensure they stay safe on site.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 2017/18 report, falls from height still account for 35% of fatal accidents at work, despite best efforts from manufacturers to educate professionals on suitable safety solutions. As roofers account for nearly 24% of all work at height fatalities within the construction industry, the need for suitable safety equipment remains paramount in order to avoid serious injury.

As a result, more roofers are turning to fall protection systems to ensure the safety of workers in the event of a fall. However, with cheap alternatives available on the market, it is important to ensure you are investing in high quality products from trusted manufacturers that are fully compliant to the correct certification.

Investing in quality products

When selecting a safety solution for working at height such as a fall protection kit, professionals should always look to source from a trusted brand or manufacturer to guarantee the integrity of the equipment provided. Although there may be cheaper options available on the market, this may be reflective of the quality. Lower cost alternative may not guarantee that the product meets the required standards or that it has been thoroughly tested to the same standard of that of a well-established manufacturer.

When purchasing any fall protection kit that includes a safety harness, employers should ensure it is certified to the correct standard to guarantee safety. Any fall protection system should be CE marked to guarantee safety, while full body harnesses should be certified to EN 361:2002.

Take time for inspection

Investing in high-quality safety equipment is just the first step in safeguarding roofers. It is equally important to ensure that thorough and regular inspection of fall protection systems is carried out by a competent person in order to ensure the ongoing safety of the user.

Due to their nature, fall protection kits are often subject to harsh operating conditions and will likely encounter some wear and tear. Inspections should be carried out before each use, and regular inspections thereafter by a competent person will help to identify any problems at an early stage.

To help ensure the correct inspection is carried out, those who are responsible for fall protection systems should refer to EN 365:2004, which sets out guidelines for the inspection of personal protective equipment against falls from height. This includes pre-use checks, detailed inspections and interim inspections as appropriate. All of these checks should be carried out by competent persons, to identify defects or damage that may affect safety.

The new Falls Protection range from Werner consists of four different safety solutions that are suited to different applications. The Professional Roofers Kit provides the necessary protection for working around roofing installations and is designed to be easy to use on a variety of roof pitches. Additionally, the Fall Arrest Kit comes with a 2m long shock-absorbing fall arrest lanyard to provide maximum protection for anyone working on flat roofs, scaffold systems, exposed edges and fragile surfaces. To prevent against wearing, metal buckles on all kits are zinc passivated to help prevent rusting and deterioration of webbing material, while reinforced loops help eliminate wear and tear.

Many fall protection systems now feature additional measures to make any issues that would compromise user safety easy to spot. For example, the stitching patterns found on the Werner Fall Protection harnesses will help indicate post fall condition and aid equipment inspection in the event of a fall. A lanyard that has been used to arrest a fall should never be reused. In this case, it should be withdrawn from service immediately and destroyed.

As well as taking the time to ensure you are selecting suitable fall protection equipment, it’s also important to take care when using the product. A product that is not used in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines ultimately jeopardises the safety of the user, so it’s important to ensure any product is correctly worn and adjusted before use.

By taking careful considerations when purchasing and using fall protection systems, roofers can help minimise the potential risks of working at heights, and only by choosing products from a trusted and reliable brand such as Werner can professionals ensure the highest level of safety.