Rooftop lifelines EN 795 are the cheapest way to prevent fall hazards in the roof. However, they come together with many hidden problems unknown or not explained at the early design stage. The most important one is that what is cheap at the beginning becomes extremely expensive after years of building exploitation. There are safest roof safety systems in the market, which at the end represent yearly earnings for the building owner. In addition, in many cases, the use of rooftop lifelines is not compliant with applicable regulations.
In this post, we take you through all the problems associated with the installation of rooftop lifelines EN 795 to prevent fall hazards.
Legal basis – priority of collective protection equipment (CPE)
European Directive 89/391/EEC, which lays down the principles of preventive action, prioritizes collective protection equipment (CPE) over personal protective equipment (PPE). The regulations clearly state that rooftop lifelines and anchor points EN ISO 795 should only be installed when it is not possible to use collective protection equipment, such as safety railings.
From a legal point of view, the use of rooftop lifelines as well as EN 795 anchor points at places where CPE could be installed, may constitute an abuse of health and safety legal provisions. The legal approach is very simple. In the case of rooftop lifelines EN 795, safety depends on the roof user’s approach and ability to use specialised mountaineering equipment. In the case of CPE safety systems, no user action is required. That is the reason why, the safety legal provisions gives always priority to this collective protection equipment (CPE).
Problems when using rooftop lifelines systems EN 795
In most cases, the disadvantages of installing rooftop lifelines EN 795 compared to, for example, roof safety railings (CPE), are not known by the roof owner as he takes a decision. Below, we introduce you all the points to consider before installing rooftop lifelines:
- need to train roof users regardless of the work difficulty to carry out on the roof. For example, operators responsible for clearing snow on the roof will need to get certification in:
- operating the lifeline safety system and using specialised mountaineering equipment
- obtaining a medical certificate allowing them to perform work at height
- Depending on the company’s employee turnover, after a few years, the costs associated with obtaining the qualifications and with training employees to carry out work at height, using lifelines can represent a very large sum that is not taken into account when deciding to install rooftop lifelines. In addition, there is always a risk that the person on the roof does not have an up-to-date medical examination or training when it needs.
- EN 795 European standard requires from the rooftop lifelines owner to provide a technical inspection once a year by a company authorised by the manufacturer.
- a fall by an EN 795 C rooftop lifeline system user may results in:
- the need to replace the lifeline or its basic components
- in many cases, repairing damaged parts of the roof (structural posts)
- Please remember that steel posts where the rooftop lifeline is fixed to the roof should bend as user falls, in order to absorb part of the falling energy. Such situations occur and force the property to spend sometimes more money than with the original rooftop lifelines installation (roof repair + lifeline elements replacement + installation costs).
- rooftop lifelines EN 795 C systems limit the number of people working on the roof to 2 or a maximum of 3. Apart from that, mobility is limited to the lifeline course only. This can sometimes be insufficient to carry out some works on the roof or can make these works more difficult or slower.
- rooftop lifelines safety system includes not only the components permanently fixed to the roof, but also individual protective components such as: steel trolleys, safety harnesses, safety shock absorbers, self-locking devices, connectors, etc., which are often very expensive. In the case of rooftop lifelines used by different persons, some of these elements often get lost. That represents an extra cost to add to the cost of maintaining the safety system.
- when carrying out repairs, renovations or servicing the technical equipment on the roof, the property is limited to companies having work at height certifications. These are companies with much higher hourly rates than ordinary companies operating in the market.
- safety on the roof not only depends on operator’s decision to attach himself to the lifeline or respect safety regulations, but also on his ability to use specialised mountaineering equipment.
It is worth considering whether installing rooftop lifelines system is a cost saving. The costs associated with maintenance, training of workers and hiring mountaineering companies to operate the technical equipment on the roof during building lifetime are enormous. On the other hand, these are systems that leave the decision to secure themselves or not in the hands of the roof user. Roof railings EN 14122-3 ensures safety on the roof and come out much cheaper during the building lifetime.