Roof Work toolbox talk

A simple, 5 minute outline of what to cover in a toolbox talk on Roof Work.

Falls from height can cause serious injury or death if the risks associated with roof works are not controlled. Health and Safety legislation requires that reasonable and practicable steps must be taken to prevent harm from a fall from height.

Why run a Roof Work Toolbox Talk?

  • Prevent unnecessary injury from working on roofs by improving awareness and training
  • Assist with understanding of legislative aspects and standards
  • Fewer injuries means higher productivity

Are there alternatives to going on the roof?

Consider whether there is a safer method of accessing the work, such as scaffolds, temporary work platforms or mobile elevated work platforms.

Can the work be done from the ground e.g. the items being worked on is lowered to ground level.

Carry out a risk assessment for all work on roofs 

  • Falls from a roof can happen regardless of the duration of the work. A risk assessment must be carried out for ALL roof jobs.
  • Identify the hazards and assess whether the risk of a fall can be eliminated
  • If there is still a risk of a fall, some form of edge protection should be considered next.
  • Identify and cover any roof openings / sky lights
  • Ensure a competent person assesses the condition of the roof for stability and brittleness 


Establish and apply controls to manage the risk

  • If edge protection is not practicable then other systems should be used such as
    • Total restraint systems
    • Work positioning systems
    • Safety mesh
    • Safety nets
    • Fall arrest systems
  • If harnesses are worn, suitable anchor points should be used
  • Specific controls should be in place if roofs contain asbestos
  • Crawling boards and roof ladders should be used for sloping and / or brittle roofs
  • Ladders should only be used as a means of access or for short duration work
  • Isolate the area (exclusion zone) below roof work to prevent people being struck by materials or tools that might fall.
  • Understand the location of any wiring such as power or telephone that might come into contact, while working
  • Consider the effect of the weather – the risk will increase in wet, windy or icy conditions
  • Make sure there is a safe method of getting materials and tools up and down from the roof
  • Put together an emergency plan in case of an accident
  • Anyone working on a roof should be trained by a competent person on how to work safely at height
  • Appropriate PPE such as non-slip footwear, gloves, hard hat, eye protection etc. should be identified

Key takeaways:

  • Can roof work be eliminated?
  • Carry out a risk assessment for all roof work, regardless of duration
  • Ensure everyone working at height has the appropriate training and competency

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