In two separate HSE verdicts published recently, the importance of walkovers for fragile roofs is highlighted by near-miss incidents.
Both involved falls from height after crashing through weak roofs or skylights, but thankfully neither ended in a fatality.
In the first incident, dating back to August 2010, 25-year-old James Coe was lifted on to a roof constructed from 6mm asbestos sheets.
Rather than using a proper walkover, he had been told to simply use boards to spread his weight – a practice deemed “woefully inadequate” by the HSE.
He fell through the roof, landing on tensioned wire beneath, and suffered a minor head injury and bruised ribs.
On December 7th 2012, in a separate incident, Kieran Thomson was working on a roof when he tripped and fell through a skylight, landing on a floor-mounted bandsaw some five metres below.
HSE inspector Isabelle Martin said: “Roof lights are fragile, and the control measures required to ensure that people do not fall through them are equally well known.”
Guardrails are one way to keep people from encroaching on to the weaker area of the skylight, while walkovers can provide a stable route over the area if it is impossible to go around.