In the last couple of weeks with the onset of heavy rain and storms, factories are reminded that they have a roof! During these unprecedented times of Covid 19, it is hardly surprising that cleaning gutters and maintaining roofs might have been neglected.

Many factories were shut for months or working to limited capacity and seagulls have been having a field day during this quiet time, nesting behind roof vents or chimneys. Their detritus can be washed down into the gutters, along with any moss and lichen that may have died off during the dry spring and early summer months. Blocked downpipes can result in severe flooding and disruption.

We have lost a job this week where we had suggested several months ago a permanent safety walkway should be installed and an annual maintenance programme put in place. Access was extremely dangerous and cherry pickers could not be used. The directors wanted to avoid that cost and a handyman was prepared to do the job without any safety equipment. He lived to tell the tale – this time!

Most of our clients are professional and come to us knowing we will not take risks and will insist that our joint legal responsibilities are adhered to. However, we are seeing a return to the bad old days where to save costs, short cuts are being taken. The local “handyman” is being used to clean valley gutters or carry out repairs, often without training or safety equipment, and possibly without insurance to work at height.

Most serious accidents and death in construction are whilst carrying out gutter maintenance, replacing roof lights, patching leaks and falls from ladders.

Our Small works division carry out planned maintenance contracts and much more for factories throughout East Anglia. Thousands of factories built in the 1960’s and 70’s have fragile asbestos roofs, and before offering a solution or reacting to emergencies, we need to carry out a safety inspection to ensure the correct and legal safety access is allowed for.

We urge customers to plan ahead and try to avoid the unexpected. There is never a problem until there is an accident! We will not compromise safety for commercial gain.

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