Roofers’ safety: non-negotiable!




Roofers’ safety: non-negotiable!

Installing zinc on roofs or cladding in 2016 without risking a serious accident or death, such is the permanent daily context of roofers everywhere in the world. Our longstanding collaboration with them demonstrates that the issue of their safety is more complex to comprehend than that of the workers in our plants, whose work environment is always the same.

And this makes a huge difference: these building professionals work on sites where they are not always in control of safety.

Our technicians, who work directly with roofers on VMZINC projects, describe the sometimes difficult dilemmas they are faced with. Should technical assistance work on a roof or facade whose access is not properly secured be accepted or - even if reasons are put forward - refused at the risk of losing the client?

Our company has chosen the second option.

If there is a refusal, it means our technician observed that access to the roof is dangerous and, in some cases, scaffolding is incomplete, insufficiently secure or poor quality. However, a refusal is not an end in itself. Trained in this area and aware of the regulations in force in the country where he is working, the technician’s mission is to try to address the problem, in so far as possible, in situ.

But sometimes the shortcomings are such that he must leave and propose returning as soon as the scaffolding is brought up to regulatory standards. Often, he must also remind clients of the basic recommendations in terms of safety equipment for workers (helmets, gloves, eyewear, belts and harnesses attached to a lifeline for work on slopes).

Sometimes our technicians help with organisation of the site by placing profiling machines strategically to ensure productivity and stability at forming locations. These initiatives confirm the proactive role and contribution, however modest, of our company to raising awareness of roofers and facade specialists on safety.

Safety cultures vary from one country to another

I have observed that these approaches taken throughout the world by our technicians with roofers are always made-to-order responses, sometimes difficult to impose, as safety cultures are not the same in “mature” countries as in emerging countries. Our technicians often mutually share experiences and site photos, which are very telling in terms of the risks sometimes taken. Although in England and Australia sites are only accessible to workers who pass through access control, where their equipment is individually checked every day, this is not the situation everywhere and in Asia, for example, there is huge room for improvement in this regard.

Far be it for me to criticise bamboo scaffolding secured with simple ropes. Our technician in the Asia Pacific zone confirms that these offer huge advantages because they are lightweight and flexible, making it easy to work on the complex shape of certain buildings. The connection points are extremely resilient and local companies are highly skilled in their installation, especially in high rise tower blocks. But these spectacular assemblies often feature shortcomings at corners, for access between levels or simply in terms of fall protection.

This subject is sufficiently important for us to discuss it regularly.

We will discuss the well-established safety approach that is shared by all our production sites and our “zero accident” objective that can now be reached.

Above all, certain of our technicians will recount their experiences, as did Mohand Akli-Djellab, who covers the Asia Pacific zone, including China and India.

Please don’t hesitate to send us some site photos of impressive or less impressive scaffolding!

Roger Baltus
Engineer - Architect
VMZINC Communication Director

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