The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSE NI) is addressing the problem of farm-based accidents and fatalities by reminding farmers and contractors of their health and safety duties when carrying out roof repairs.

During 2013, two roofing contractors sadly died in separate incidents by falling through the roof of a farm shed. In addition, other accidents resulted in serious injuries to contractors brought onto farms to carry out roofing repair and maintenance.

These accidents were due to falls from the edges of the roof, through gaps or holes in the roof and through fragile materials and roof lights.

All work on roofs is a high risk activity, not only during the construction of a new roof but also getting onto an existing roof for any length of time – including for a few minutes to “have a look” or carry out a small repair. So, always consider whether it is really necessary to go onto the roof at all.

If you are a farmer and you use a building contractor for roof work then you (the “client”) have legal duties under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2007/291. You need to work with the contractor to make sure you get the job done safely.

The contractor also has legal duties under health and safety law which are separate to those of the “client”. These duties cannot be evaded or avoided nor passed to each other either through a verbal or written contract. They include:

  • allowing adequate time for every stage of the work;
  • providing relevant information about the site, including existing structures and the intended use of any new workplace buildings;
  • checking that adequate welfare facilities are in place during every stage of work and suitable management arrangements are on-site before work begins;
  • checking the competence and resources of the contractor to carry out the work.

If the construction work will last more than 30 days or involves more than 500 person days, then there are additional requirements.

For more information, see: