Whether you are an experienced construction worker or a home DIYer, working in ceiling spaces can pose significant dangers to your health.
Major risks are:
- heat stress
- electric shock
- falling through the ceiling.
Electrical hazards include:
- exposed live electrical conductor / wiring
- electrical connections where the condition of wiring has deteriorated, often associated with older buildings
- unused wiring left in the ceiling that could be still connected to the switchboard
- past electrical work not performed by a competent person.
Heat hazards include:
- high air temperatures, frequently exceeding 50°C in summer, contributed to by strong radiant heat on the roof
- reduced ability for the body to cool due to poor ventilation and lack of air movement
- lack of heat stress awareness.
Other hazards include:
- bites or stings from insects including spiders and wasps
- falling through the ceiling
- falling off ladders while accessing the ceiling
- exposure to bird and / or vermin droppings or remains
- asbestos and dust exposure
- working in awkward positions and postures – potential for muscular or skeletal strain / injury
- working in poor light.
To avoid electrocution you must:
- switch off the electricity supply to the whole area before you touch, move or physically disturb any electrical wiring, cable or junction box connection
- always seek the services of competent people, such as an electrician
- only attempt electrical work or tasks where you have the required skills or qualifications.
To avoid heat-related illness you must:
- determine the safe entry time by assessing the temperature, through feeling for and/or measuring heat, before entering the space
- ensure all workers are trained in heat-risk awareness and how to recognise heat stress symptoms in themselves and their workmates.
Other safety considerations include:
- eliminating or minimising the danger from vermin or insect activity before entry into the roof / ceiling space
- using crawl boards to walk across ceiling space
- ensuring your entry and exit points are easily accessible
- stabilising and securing ladders to avoid slipping when being used
- using appropriate personal protective equipment.