Taking safety to new heights: roof ladder safety

Mar 18, 2022

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), within the construction industry 47% of all workplace accidents involved a fall from height. This percentage has sadly been a consistent marker for several years. With a wide variety of solutions available for roofers working at height, it can be hard to know what the best equipment is for the job at hand and with falls from a height still being the main cause of fatal accidents and serious injuries in the workplace, it’s critical that best practice is utilised when choosing and using the right working at height equipment.

Here, Gurjeev Bola, Product Manager at Werner, discusses what roofing contractors should be looking for when it comes to choosing the correct working at height equipment and what steps can be taken to increase safety and minimise accidents.

When a task needs to be completed up on the roof, undertaking a risk assessment to reduce the likelihood of a slip or fall should be the number one priority. Choosing the correct ladder type will allow roofing professionals to work at heights with ease and will support those working on different roof types. The many varieties of ladders available to choose from, plus the supporting accessories offered, can make a world of difference between a long, and potentially risky installation and a quick, secure and safe one.


Ladder 101

Roofing ladders are not a one-size-fits-all kind of tool. In fact, a number of styles, lengths, materials, and weights are suitable for different jobs. Knowing what kinds of ladders to choose from is the first step in choosing the right one to get your roofing work completed effectively and safely.

Roofers regularly spend their time working at height and many are conscious of these risks. However, the HSE reported that the majority of falls occur from the edges of roofs, through the gaps in roofs, or through fragile materials and roof lights, and therefore it’s important that the correct tool is used for the job.

A roofing ladder is simply an extension ladder that has been securely attached to the ridge of a sloped roof to allow a roofer to work from an angle on the roof. To secure the extending roof ladder, a pair of roof hooks should be installed onto the ladder. These are often accompanied by rolling wheels that allow workers to push the ladder up the height of the roof.

Ladders should never be rested on the gutter of a roof as a sole means of support as this will not be able to hold the weight of workers and materials and may lead to a fall from height.


Material matters

Before you choose a ladder pay careful attention to the duty rating, which is the maximum weight of people and materials that a ladder can support. When using a ladder, it is important that tradesmen ensure to add the weight of the materials being carried as well as their own body weight — heavy roofing materials like tiles can quickly mount up, putting workers close to the ladder's maximum load capacity.

It is also vital to consider the ladder's material. Aluminium ladders are lightweight and highly weatherproof, proving to be a popular choice when it comes to roofing ladders, as the low weight and durability bodes well for a range of working at height jobs.


Safety first

It is recommended for there to be a secure means of entry and exit while accessing a roof. A general access scaffold, tower scaffold, or extension ladder is the best solution for gaining access to the roof, while a well-secured roof ladder should be used for work on the roof.

When working on sloped roofs, full edge protection is usually required. Workers should never stand directly on slates or tiles when working on a sloping roof since they do not offer stable footing, particularly when they are wet. As a result, a roof ladder should be used in this situation.

There are a number of important factors to consider when purchasing a suitable roof ladder. It is crucial to check if it has been designed for the purpose; if it is of high-quality construction; if it is properly supported and securely fixed with ridge hooks; if it is of suitable tread depth and if it is simple to use.

Werner’s 771 Series Roof Ladders meet these specifications with ease. With a heavy-duty roof hook allowing for a superior fit across the roof apex, and a large rubber-sleeved end bar to enhance safety and grip, the series is the ideal solution for any sloped roof application. Its 150kg load capacity also makes it a practical and easily maneuverable choice. Werner’s roof ladders have an optimum weight frame for ease of positioning with no compromise on strength.

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Media contact:

Hannah Clarke

E: [email protected]

T: 0121 454 9707