Walkovers do not just help to reduce the risk of trips and falls when working at height; they may also reduce the likelihood that a misplaced footstep will disturb hazardous roofing materials like asbestos.
The HSE warns that loose-fill asbestos – often used to insulate industrial loft spaces in the 20th century – is “probably the most dangerous asbestos-containing material”.
Disturbing it without suitable precautionary measures can release large quantities of asbestos fibres into the air, where they may be breathed in, with all of the usual associated health risks for those who do so.
Equipping rooftops with walkovers can avoid direct pressure being applied to areas where asbestos is known to be present, and can potentially route workers around those areas completely, so that they pass only over parts of the roof where asbestos is not present at all.
Such precautions are likely to be on the agenda during the British Lung Foundation’s upcoming Take 5 and Stay Alive campaign, which urges workers to take a moment to think about safety, before carrying out work where asbestos may have been used.