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by the NFCC

Control measure

Safe system of work: Fragile surfaces

Control measure knowledge

Personnel need to be aware of the area and surface they may be operating near or on. Warning signs should be found at the approaches to roofs with fragile coverings.

Gaining situational awareness is crucial, with SSRI, signage and information from the responsible person or on-site staff helping to inform the risk assessment and tactical plan if it is necessary to working on or near fragile surfaces.

Warning sign for fragile roof

A cautious approach should be adopted near fragile surfaces, no matter how short the duration or the task to be carried out.

Where possible personnel should avoid going on or near a fragile surface, unless there are existing suitable and sufficient platforms, coverings, guard rails or similar means of support or protection. If no existing measures are in place, a suitable work platform such, as an aerial appliance, could be used to avoid personnel standing on the fragile surface itself.

If access on or near the fragile surface cannot be avoided, minimise fall distance and consequences by using personal fall protection systems, making sure they have adequate anchorage points and are properly used with appropriate supervision. Refer to Safe system of work: Work at height.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Consider providing or having access to a suitable work platform for incidents involving fragile surfaces

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Ensure personnel and other emergency responders are informed when fragile surfaces are present or suspected 

  • Consult with the responsible person or on-site staff to identify any fragile surfaces

  • Consider the use of specialist equipment when fragile surfaces are present or suspected