The importance of walkovers on fragile roofs has been highlighted by two recent cases in the south of England where workers were severely injured after falling through skylights.
Although the incidents happened in 2009 and 2011, both recently led to prosecution, prompting the Health & Safety Executive to warn companies about their obligations to prevent falls from height, even away from roof edges.
In the 2011 incident, an employee was removing an asbestos cement roof on behalf of Focus (Southampton) Ltd when he fell through a skylight.
A later HSE investigation found the risks of falling from the roof or from an internal mezzanine level had both been overlooked during the preparation for the project.
Meanwhile, in 2009, Futon Limited of Tottenham Hale managed some maintenance work poorly, leading to one worker falling through a skylight, colliding with roof lighting below, and landing 6.5m down on the warehouse floor.
In this instance, the company was also prosecuted for not accessing the roof appropriately, as the individual had ridden up on a working platform attached to a forklift truck, rather than via a safety ladder.
Both cases are a reminder that it is not only edge protection that is required; any area of elevation can present a risk to employees and maintenance workers, which can be overcome using safety ladders and walkovers to provide a safe and stable route across the roof.