Roof safety needs careful handling, says expert


UCH of the edge protection equipment installed on school roofs is specified as part of a roof refurbishment or new build project, but it’s also important for the school to take the opportunity to consider the ongoing at height safety requirements on campus too, says Simon Mealor, from working at height experts, Altus Safety. He explains: “When it comes to considering safety at height risk in a school environment there are three broad categories: planned access to the roof, unplanned access and unauthorised access. Planned access involves any future maintenance requirements to access the roof. For many schools, there may be a requirement to maintain and service rooftop plant, such as air handling units, or even to carry out routine repairs to the roof surface. Usually, this kind of work will be carried out by a professional who has undergone working at height training and is already familiar with all types of edge protection.

Schools that do not have plant on the roof also need to consider the scenarios

where access to the roof may be required on an unplanned basis, often by personnel who have not been safety at height trained. For example, staff may need to access the roof to retrieve balls and other sports equipment, or to remove leaves or clear gutters. Unauthorised access to the roof is also an important safeguarding consideration and managing this is integral to due diligence. The potential for vandalism and break-ins should be part of any robust edge protection strategy, because accidents could occur if access to the roof is gained without permission. The good news is that it is possible to install edge protection that acts as a deterrent and a security measure reducing risk if unauthorised access to the roof is achieved. Always use powered access where possible, says Mealor. This may be viable

for routine tasks such as clearing gutters, but it will not allow staff to access the roof for plant maintenance or removing items from the roof area, nor will it protect those who have accessed the roof without permission.

The next level involves the installation of a guardrail; a physical barrier around the roof perimeter to prevent falls. Finally, it’s also important to consider the safety risks of skylights as these are a common feature of contemporary school buildings and the danger of falling through the glazed skylight into the school is just as significant as falling from the edge of the roof. Here, modular guardrails can be used to create skylight protection units, creating a barrier to prevent falls.

Innovative £320k development aids pupils' wellbeing at Cheshire school


£320,00 project at Alsager School, Cheshire has provided students with space to enjoy the fresh air – whatever the weather.

Tasked with overseeing the design,

build and installation of a sleek new ETFE canopy to enclose what was previously an open courtyard, Access North Build came up with a lightweight steel space frame – the first of its kind supporting an ETFE membrane in the UK – erected to span the quad, thus enclosing the area beneath.

Alsager School site manager, Matt Harris, explained: “Fresh air plays a pivotal part in the wellbeing and health of people of all ages. Creating a space which allows students to ‘go outside’ while providing protection from the elements – including rain and solar shielding – is key to supporting their development.” 28

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