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This bulletin has been developed to inform workers, people in control of workplaces and employers:
While this bulletin does not cover all requirements under safety and health laws, it does cover a range of situations and will give users helpful guidance on common measures to control the risk of falls from height.
The nature of roof frames and the methods of installation provide a falling risk to those involved in their construction or erection.
Examples of situations where workers are at particular risk of falling through roof framing can include:
A person who at any workplace, is an employer, the main contractor, a self-employed person, a person having control of the workplace or a person having control of access to the workplace must, as far as practicable:
To prevent injuries arising from falls from height, industry operators involved in the erection of timber stick roof and metal and timber roof trusses must implement safe systems of work.
Although there are rules for heights at which physical controls are required, it should be recognised that falls can and do occur at any height. Consequently a risk assessment should always be carried out, and appropriate controls put in place to reduce the risk of falling.
It is acknowledged that methods of safety control suitable for one housing site may not be practicable for another site. Similarly there will be differences between metal and timber-framed roofing. As a result, all construction work needs to be considered individually, and a risk assessment done to assist the employer or person in charge and the person performing the work to identify and implement the most appropriate methods of control.
Control measures that could be used to reduce the risk of falls during different types of roof construction work may include, but not be limited to the following:
For a ceiling frame, both single and double storey, working from the top plate or joist should be avoided. When working below the top plate or joist, excess mortar from the tops of brick walls should be cleaned while the mortar is still green.
Laying plates, joists, hangers or soldiers should be done using a suitable platform at least 450mm wide where practicable. (Suitable platform - may include, but not be limited to a scaffold, mobile scaffold, trestles or trestle scaffold, planks, or sheet flooring material secured to the top surface of ceiling rafters or the bottom chord of roof trusses.)
External fall protection should be based on a risk assessment where the potential fall is less than three metres (single storey) and is mandatory where there is a potential fall of three or more metres.
Once the ceiling frame has been securely fixed, the ceiling frame may act as a base to install a platform. Planks or sheet flooring plywood could be used as a platform to then pitch the roof.
Where additional height is required above the suitable platform, an additional platform may be erected.
Safe access/egress, as determined by the relevant contractor in consultation with the builder, must be provided to all platforms.
For single storey houses less than three metres, external and internal fall protection is to be used if a risk assessment deems it necessary.
The top of brick walls to be left clean and free of mortar before the timber wall plate is installed.
The practice of roof carpenters balancing on a ceiling hanger while nailing ceiling joists to the hanger is to be avoided where practicable.
Avoid manual lifting of large spanning trusses onto wall plates. When assembling and erecting trusses, use a platform and where practical use a crane.
Eliminate walking along external or internal top plates. Instead, use a platform or work from below.
Avoid standing or putting weight on unbraced trusses.
Use pre-cut spacers to brace each truss where practicable.
Provide safe access between trusses when bracing bottom chords.
Avoid walking the bottom chord of the truss.
A suitable working platform is to be used to fix speed bracing.
Battens used in construction must be strong enough to span the top chords of trusses or rafters and reduce the risk of a worker falling through the spacing of the roof.
Note: The installation of the roof battens themselves present a degree of risk because of the framing member spacings the worker will be moving along. Therefore:
To reduce the risk of internal falls:
To reduce the risk of external falls:
Note: Due to roof dynamics, where walking along planked sections or between platforms that cannot practicably have handrails, the trusses that are moved should be in place and braced immediately.
Please refer to the Code of practice: Prevention of falls at workplaces, published by the Commission for Occupational Safety and Health.
WorkSafe acknowledges the Queensland Government Workplace health and safety guide on domestic construction, which has been used in the development of this bulletin. This bulletin was prepared in consultation with the Construction Industry Safety Advisory Committee.