Safety Alert for Working on Fragile Roofs


A significant rise in the number of fatalities involving working on roofs, particularly involving fragile roof materials, has prompted the Health and Safety Authority to issue this Safety Alert to highlight the need for stringent health and safety procedures when carrying out this type of work.

In the last 5 years (2011-2015) there have been 12 fatalities associated with roof work. Of these 10 deaths have involved sheeted / cladded type roofs while 2 occurred on other types of roofs. 7 of these fatalities occurred on agricultural buildings with most involving a simple fall through fragile roof material.
Fragile roofing materials include:

  • Rooflights and Perspex sheeting, often difficult to identify due to weathering
  • Liner sheets on built up roofs
  • Unreinforced cement sheets including asbestos cement sheeting
  • Glass (including wired glass)
  • Wood wool slabs

Always assume all roofing materials are fragile unless confirmed otherwise by a competent person

Key Steps:

  1. Do not undertake any roofwork, painting or repairs yourself unless you are competent to do so. Work on fragile and cladded type roofs requires the worker to be competent and in possession of the relevant valid SOLAS Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) for Roof Cladding.
  2. Risk assess the work including considering all specific hazards such as fragile roofs.
  3. Select the most suitable work equipment for the job. Collective protection must be prioritised over individual protection.
  4. Carry out the work in a safe manner in accordance with the HSA Code of Practice for Safety in Roofwork (see link below). 

Further Information

Fragile Roofs, Safe Work Practices – Health and Safety Executive, UK