20 Safety Tips For Working At Height

Safety Tips For Working At Height - Maguire Brothers

You shouldn’t survey a roof unless you are competent or are being escorted by a competent person, especially if you will need to use a ladder. Always carry out a risk assessment and ask the client for input if necessary. You should not use ladders unless you have been trained in their use.

Falls from height are the main cause of death and injury for construction workers. Research by the NFRC indicated that most of these fatalities were not roofers but people who did not work at height regularly, so don’t think you are exempt – you are in the highest risk category!

Here’s your 20 point checklist for staying safe at heights:

1. Letting someone know when you are arriving on site and agree to check in with them when you’ve finished. If they don’t hear from you they should contact you and if they can’t, raise the alarm.

2. Don’t climb onto a pitched roof. This should not be necessary. If it is, make sure you undertake a risk assessment first.

3. Usually pitched roof can be measured from the ground or from inside, without going onto them. Use simple trigonometry, pitch readers (a feature on most smart phones) count tile or slate courses if you know their size and measuring at ground level.

4. Try and obtain access to the loft if possible. This make measuring the roof pitch much easier and allows you to gain other vital information such as the presence of insulation, batten centers and sarking details.

5. Check to see if there is access to view the roof without having to use a ladder. Ladders are a last means of access and their use should be avoided if possible. Think of substitutes like cherry pickers and scaffold towers.

6. Always take your mobile phone with you in case you become trapped or require emergency help.

7. If you gain access onto a roof through a door or access hatch, make sure you secure it so that it cannot blow shut and trap you on the roof.

8. Where appropriate, make sure you lock any access doors after you have finished on the roof to prevent unauthorised access.

9. Be extremely careful in wet or icy conditions. If the roof and the site are slippery, postpone your inspection until it has thawed or dried out. Be very careful; you only need a small area of wet or ice to slip.

10. Make sure that the building, roof coverings and structures are safe and not in danger of collapse.

Maguire Brothers - Download our Pitched Roofing Guide

11. It is not possible to walk safely on most slate and tile roof coverings without there being full scaffold and edge protection in place. This is rarely provided for a roof inspection. However, if safe access is possible, extreme care should still be taken.

12. Tiles and slates can be brittle and can break easily; especially if you do not know where to walk. Make arrangements for them to be repaired before you leave site.

13. Never walk backwards.

14. Never walk close to the edge of a roof or on parapet walls (they can collapse) or close to roof lights.

15. Never walk outside safety railings or barriers.

16. Look out and avoid trip hazards, such as cables or safety lines.

17. Stop when you make notes. Don’t walk while you are writing things down.

18. Do not allow any of your tools or equipment to get near the edge of the roof. Nothing you take onto the roof should be left unattended where it is in danger of being knocked or blown off the roof or creating a trip hazard.

19. Find out in advance if there are any aerials, telephone masts, or the like on the roof and check with the client or service providers, that it is safe to go on the roof while they are in operation. They may have to be turned off.

20. Remember – you are responsible for your own safety and that of others affected by your actions.


This article, as with all other articles we produce, is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute formal advice and should not be relied upon as such. For bespoke, unbiased advice relating to your commercial roofing project please contact us and we would be pleased to assist.

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