What is the best way to access a roof? (Ladders vs scaffolding)

If you have ever thought about getting access to a roof on a building you may have wondered what would be the better option to do it, a ladder, or a scaffold? Well you don’t need to wonder anymore because as luck would have it that very question is going to be explored in this article. Any work involving access to a roof should be carried out by a professional whether on a domestic or a commercial building. If you are in the trade, you may already know how to answer this question, but it never hurts to have a refresher. It is important to complete a risk assessment prior to any roof work to identify the risks and assess the safest and most practical method of access whether that be ladders, scaffolding or even another way entirely.



There are ladder options out there that are specifically designed for roof access (we have some examples you can have a look through the website) but general practice is that ladders when accessing a roof would only be used for a short duration and low risk work. In one report it stated that a third of all reported falls from height involve ladders and stepladders. This is mainly due to misuse of ladders or an inappropriate selection of the ladder.

Therefore, if the work being carried out on the roof is higher risk or going to take longer due to the complexity of the job then a ladder probably is not the right choice. It would be a good choice if you were replacing a few tiles or making minor adjustments or repairs to a television aerial that is quick and easy to complete. For this, you would need a properly secured ladder to access the roof and then the more specific ladders for when you’re on the roof itself.

It may seem more cost effective to use ladders instead of other options but for larger scale jobs it’s considerably more dangerous and ultimately not worth any risk.



Similarly, with ladders mobile scaffold towers that are smaller and easier to use could do smaller, short duration jobs well. However, for roofs that require extensive work it would not be very sufficient to use these towers you would be much better off investing in normal scaffolding. It’s easy to use, will save you money and time in the long run as a result and will be safer with a secure platform and rails to protect you.

If neither of these options are right for the job at hand, there are other roof access options that could be more suitable. Some examples include fixed internal or external staircases, mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPS), and roof access hatches. Again, carrying out a risk assessment is going to be the best way to tell what is right for each roof and job.


For more information about our roof ladders and scaffold towers explore our website or get in touch with one of our team who can answer any questions you may have.

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