Green roofs are gaining popularity due to their ecological benefits and their ability to make urban areas more livable. In addition to enhancing aesthetics and promoting biodiversity, green roofs play a crucial role in managing rainwater runoff. Furthermore, the presence of green roofs reduces the urban heat island effect and improves air quality. However, maintaining green roofs requires not only care for the vegetation but also attention to safety during maintenance. This is where fall protection comes into play.

Fall Protection on Green Roofs: A Necessary Measure for Green Roof Maintenance

When designing and maintaining green roofs, it is essential to ensure the safety of the workers who need to access these roofs. Fall protection systems are crucial in this context, as they minimize the risk of falling from heights, allowing inspections, maintenance, and other tasks to be performed safely.

This safety requirement may be included in the various Working Conditions Acts in your region, which applies to all workplaces, including locations where people work at heights, such as green roofs.

groendak zonder valbeveiliging

The Working Conditions Acts in General

Worldwide there are various working conditions acts that set standards for workplace safety, health and welfare. They vary significantly around the world, but most of them share the same goals of ensuring safe working environments, reducing worplace hazards, and promoting the health and well being of employees.

Some important aspects regarding occupational safety on (green) roofs are:

Risk Inventory and Evaluation (RI&E): Employers are required to conduct a RI&E to identify and evaluate the risks to the safety and health of employees. This includes risks related to working at height, such as falls from the green roof.

Fall Hazard: Employers must take measures to prevent or mitigate fall hazards, for example by installing collective fall protection systems such as guardrails, railings, or safety nets.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): If fall hazards cannot be eliminated, employees must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety harnesses, lifelines, and fall arrest devices. Employers are responsible for providing this PPE and ensuring its correct use.

Instruction and Training: Employers must provide employees with adequate instruction and training regarding safe working at height, including the proper use of fall protection equipment and emergency procedures.

Supervision and Control: Employers must supervise compliance with safety regulations and ensure that employees work safely according to the established procedures.

Failure to comply with the regulations of the Working Conditions Act (Arbowet) can lead to legal and financial consequences for employers, including fines and liability for accidents or health problems resulting from unsafe working conditions. Therefore, it is essential for employers and employees to be aware of their responsibilities and the applicable rules regarding occupational safety on green roofs.

Fall Protection on Green Roofs: Where to Start?

A good approach for a green roof with fall protection starts during the design phase. Designers and architects must consider the necessary safety measures and integrate them into the design. Installing permanently fixed fall protection systems offers the most reliable protection. Therefore, it is wise to investigate what is best possible for the intended roof. Assuming that there is no green roof yet, the following logical order is best to follow. Below is the most logical sequence for installing a green roof with fall protection:

Install Fall Protection Before Installing a Green Roof:

Risk Analysis: A fall protection specialist conducts a thorough risk analysis (RI&E) to identify potential hazards on the future green roof, such as the risk of falling from edges, roof access hatches, or maintenance areas. Knowing in advance how the green roof will be arranged is useful. This way, potential hazards can be eliminated early. For example, consider accessibility in areas with high vegetation.

Design and Planning: Design a fall protection system that is suitable for the specific type of green roof and the layout of your building. Besides safe roof access, consider various options. This includes edge protection, anchor points, lifeline and rail systems, or safety nets, depending on the needs of your roof and its users. Also, take into account skylights, which can pose hidden fall hazards in a vegetated roof. Fall protection should almost always be installed directly on the roof structure. Therefore, it is useful to arrange the green roof only after the potential fall protection has been selected and installed.

Installation of Fall Protection: Engage a fall protection specialist, for example, one of our certified partners, for the installation of the fall protection system. They ensure that the system is correctly installed according to manufacturer and safety regulations. The fall protection specialist will also select the necessary fall protection PPE.

By following this structured approach, you can ensure that the green roof is not only environmentally and aesthetically beneficial but also safe for those who will work on it.

After Installation:

Training and Awareness: Ensure training and awareness for everyone who has access to the green roof. Staff must be aware of the risks of working at height and the proper use of fall protection equipment.

Apply the Greenery: Plan in advance how the roof will be arranged and which greenery will be installed. For example, if you choose Sedum cassettes, you can place them around the fall protection systems. Always ensure that the fall protection does not experience any obstruction. This ensures that the fall protection will continue to function properly.

Maintenance and Inspection: Fall protection on green roofs must be inspected annually. Therefore, regularly perform maintenance and inspections of both the green roof and the fall protection systems. This not only ensures optimal functionality but also compliance with safety standards. Always have damaged components replaced by a fall protection specialist.

By incorporating these steps, you can maintain a safe, functional, and environmentally friendly green roof that meets all necessary safety requirements.

Dak met valbeveiliging Groendak met valbeveiliging Green roofs fall protection

Download the whitepaper “Green Roofs and Roof Safety: Essential Considerations for Fall Protection”

XSPlatforms has written a whitepaper on this topic. In it, we discuss fall protection systems and the basics of fall safety on green roofs. Download the whitepaper here and receive it via email.

Whitepaper - Groendaken en dakveiligheid: Essentiële overwegingen voor valbeveiliging

Would you like to get more information?

Are you excited about our fall protection solutions and want to safely maintain your green roof with XSPlatforms fall protection? Then contact us, and we’ll be happy to connect you with our installation partners. Are you a green roof contractor and want to include fall protection in your specifications? Please contact us at [email protected] or call us at +31 (0)183 56 91 11.

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