The laws and regulations within the construction industry today can be anything from lacking, to intensely strict. Some areas have more regulations than they can keep up with while others are in need of some extra safety guidance. For the roofing industry, there are currently very few regulations in place and when faced with the question as to whether it should be regulated, those in the roofing industry often have mixed responses. 

While all construction companies have to adhere to the same health and safety guidelines as each other, roofing is one area that isn’t heavily regulated. In our article, we’re digging a little deeper into the guidelines and regulations that are in place for roofers, and whether the industry could benefit from more.

Is Insurance for Roofers Necessary?

While Public Liability Insurance for Roofers isn’t technically a legal requirement, it’s one policy that is crucial in an industry like roofing. As with any construction trade, there are risks associated with using tools, equipment and heavy materials and for roofers working at height with tiles, tools and ladders, this is particularly true. On any one day at work, you need to consider the risk that members of the public could be harmed. Common accidents include: 

  • A tile or tool falls from the roof and harms a passer-by or damages property
  • Your ladder falls and damages a car
  • You damage the existing structure while on the roof
  • Someone trips over your ladder or tools left unattended

There are plenty of accidents that could happen and while public liability insurance isn’t the only way to protect yourself and your business, it is a crucial part of maintaining your finances when needed most. Claims made against you can be costly, from compensation costs to legal fees and settlements, but insurance will provide the financial protection needed to cover these. 

Currently, there is no obligation to have public liability insurance, however when working in a business that can still face accidents even when all health and safety guidance is adhered to, having the additional protection will ensure that not only is your business protected, but the public too.

Health And Safety Regulations for Roofers

When conducting any and all roofing work, you need to adhere to health and safety guidelines as with any other construction job. The Health And Safety Executive (HSE) provides full guidelines for working on roofs, stating that “The law says you must organise and plan all roof work so it is carried out safely… All work on roofs is highly dangerous, even if a job only takes a few minutes. Proper precautions are needed to control the risk.” 

In order to provide good but safe work to clients, roofers must be well-trained, knowledgeable of all requirements and precautions, and competent in their job. The HSE suggests that a method statement may be the best way to provide the same information to all staff to ensure they are on the same page. 

While doing a good job is a crucial part of running a roofing business, health and safety is a core part and one that will protect you, your clients and your employees. You should always be assessing the safety of access to the roof, the integrity and whereabouts of roof edges and openings, and any fragile surfaces you come across. 

Some of the key measures you should consider and take when roofing is laid out as such: 

  • Safe access to roofing, carefully planned and assessed. This could include general access scaffolding, stair towers, scaffold towers, mobile access equipment, ladders and roof access hatches.
  • Assessment of the roof itself, including the edges and openings. Sloping roofs require scaffolding for the safety of workers and the public below. Flat roofs can be protected using double guardrails and toeboards to prevent falls or the dropping of equipment. 
  • Fragile surfaces – all roofs should be treated as fragile until confirmed otherwise. Do not trust it to bear the weight of a person. Use stagings, guard rails, fall restraints, fall arrests and safety nets to ensure safety. 
  • Fragile roof lights are also a hazard to assess – some may be difficult to see in some conditions, so will need to be adequately protected and bordered to ensure they are seen and avoided or taken care around.

Licensing for Roofers

At the time of writing, there are no licences required for roofing companies. For roofers operating within the usual parameters of a roofing company, this means you don’t have to go to any extra lengths to start your business. However, if you are planning to do a few extra jobs, you may need to apply for permissions and licencing. These jobs include: 

  • Transporting building waste – you will need a certificate of registration as an ‘upper tier’ waste carrier from the Environment Agency in England, Natural Resources Wales or the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • Working with asbestos – any work with asbestos, including removing roofing that may have asbestos in it, can only be done by licenced individuals. You should apply for a licence from the Health and Safety Executive Asbestos Licencing Unit, or from the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland. For occasional jobs involving asbestos, you may prefer to just hire someone to do the task, as there is a charge for the license. 
  • Scaffolding – you need to obtain permits if you plan to erect scaffolding on or over a public road.
  • Skip Hire – If you are in need of a skip and that skip needs to sit on the road, you will need a Skip Permit from the local authority. Some skip companies may do this for you.

While there are no strict licences or certifications that you need to conduct roofing works, you could opt to obtain a voluntary certification not only to set yourself apart from other companies but to provide you with additional information and training that can help you complete the job more effectively. TrustMark, for example, is a scheme run by the government and is considered to be a trusted and worthwhile move.

You could also apply for the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) Competent Roofer scheme in order to sign off your work for Building Regulations compliance, rather than having it inspected each time. You can complete your own certificates which can save you time and potentially money too. 

While there are certifications and regulations in place, the roofing industry is one area that doesn’t require a huge amount of additional regulation outside of the usual UK construction rules. Whether it’s insurance, fire safety, health and safety, employment rules or fair trading, there is a significant amount of legislation in place to keep things operating smoothly and safely for all involved. Could the industry do with more regulation? That still seems up for debate, but with adequate training and the right insurance, you can operate your business safely. For more information, get in touch with Ashburnham Insurance for free on 0800 1696137.

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