Guidelines for working on roofs launched at national conference

Issue 40 – July 2012

New guidelines to help prevent workers falling from roofs have been launched to the roofing industry.

The best practice guidelines for working on roofs were prepared by the Department of Labour in association with the Roofing Association of New Zealand and they provide practical guidance to employers, contractors, employees, designers, principals and persons who control a place of work, and architects who are involved in work associated with roofing.

Construction is one of five sectors where specific action plans have been developed to reduce the death and injury toll. 'The roofing guidelines have been launched as part of the Preventing Falls from Height project, which aims to raise awareness about working safely at height and reducing the human and financial toll caused by falls from height,' says the Department of Labour Programme Manager – Harm Reduction, Francois Barton.

'More than half the falls from height reported to the Department are happening from under three metres – and most of these falls are from roofs and ladders. Too many roofers are falling.

'These guidelines are a practical way of helping roofers and others in the construction sector understand what safe working practice at height looks like. Preventing falls while working at height is a top priority for the department,' Mr Barton said.

The Department of Labour has recently set a target of a 25% reduction in serious injuries and deaths by 2020 and these guidelines will help regulators, employers, employees, and industry associations contribute to meeting that target.

The President of the Roofing Association Graham Moor said 'to see scaffolding and edge protection being used on single level dwellings and becoming a common practice is a quantum leap from where we were, but there's still work to do.'

From July the Department of Labour will be commencing targeted enforcement in the construction sector, particularly focusing on residential building sites, to prevent falls from height.

'The Department is increasing the visibility and intensity of workplace visits in the construction sector and turning up the heat around poor practice. If we see nothing is being done to prevent falls from height in the workplace, we'll take appropriate enforcement steps. Doing nothing is not an option,' Mr Barton said.

Summarised from a Department of Labour media release, 9 June 2012

Published in consumer and occupational safety.