Working at height is a high-risk activity and roofing is the biggest killer in the construction industry. It is a sobering fact that around a quarter of all workers killed in falls from height at work are roofers.
If you’re a landlord looking to hire a roofer, it’s a good idea to set the ground rules from the outset. Each party should know what their requirements are regarding health and safety and what, exactly, are your expectations.
As a landlord, you should be aware that you have a duty of care under health and safety law as well as the roofer. It is a common misconception that the roofer is solely responsible for health and safety at work but in fact, both parties will have duties under health and safety law. Equally, if your roofer hires a sub-contractor to carry out any work, all parties will have some health and safety responsibilities. How much responsibility each of you has, depends on the circumstances.
Treated Like a Criminal
Before starting work, a contract will be drawn up between a landlord and a roofing contractor. This is called a civil contract and it should contain details of the health and safety measures required for the work that is about to be undertaken.
But the contract itself won’t protect you if an accident happened as health and safety responsibilities come under criminal law, which is an indication of the seriousness of health and safety at work.
If either the landlord or the roofing contractor takes risks, cuts corners, or fails to ensure that the site is safe to undertake work then you may be tried under criminal law, and the implications of that could have huge repercussions. In short, you could be treated like a criminal.
Imagine that somebody has fallen through fragile material such as a roof light and is paralysed as a consequence – this could result in a lengthy legal case and if you were found to have been negligent, substantial damages could be awarded.
How Can I Avoid Health and Safety Problems?
All this can be avoided by taking some steps before you hire a roofing contractor to undertake work on your property. As a landlord, you should make a number of checks as a matter of course before hiring a roofing contractor.
When choosing a roofing firm, the landlord should ensure the competency of the roofers that will be involved in the work. If you want a professional job done, then you should check memberships with trade bodies, references and credentials. Don’t just take the roofer’s word for it – do manual checks where you can, to avoid problems down the line.
Here are some questions you should ask:
What is their experience in undertaking similar work?
What is their health and safety policy and practice?
Will they undertake a risk assessment?
How long have they been in the roofing industry?
Are they members of a relevant trade or professional body such as the Confederation of roofing contractors?
You should also find out about their health and safety performance, for example, if they’ve had any accidents recently, and how many?
Once you’ve assured yourself that the roofer is competent to complete the work safely, you should make their expectations crystal clear, outlining every aspects of the work they want the roofer to do. This includes work carried out while setting up and completing the project. As a landlord, you should consider the risks that are associated with the work you want undertaking. If you have any health and safety concerns regarding the project, you should discuss this fully with the roofers before any work is started.
Use this guide to hiring a roofer alongside and find out as much information as you can from organisations like the Health and Safety Executive to help you stay on the right side of the law when it comes to health and safety.