Andy Williamson, Group MD of IKO PLC, BMBI Expert for Roofing
Torch-on is one of the most cost-effective, reliable and widely-used applications in the roofing industry – used in approximately half of flat roof projects. But in any situation, a naked flame obviously represents a risk to safety. And in roofing, even minor fires inevitably damage products, property and the reputation of the roofing industry, ultimately posing a risk to life.
That’s why the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) issued Safe2Torch last year. A brilliant initiative created by the market in an effort to self-regulate, it should improve safety on site for everyone involved. It’s been embraced by the industry and registration to Safe2Torch is set to become mandatory for all NFRC and CompetentRoofer members involved in flat roofing.
Developed in partnership with NFRC contractor and manufacturer members (including IKO), Safe2Torch is about minimising fire risk and promoting best practice when using gas torches to install torch-on membranes or drying out roof surfaces. It consists of a Guidelines booklet and a checklist to be completed before work starts to promote the safe use of hot works at any stage of a project, so there’s a clear protocol in every situation where there is a risk of fire.
Safe2Torch is designed for easy implementation and clarifies and formalises what the best do already, while acting as a guide when contractors are faced with challenges they’re not familiar with.
The emphasis is on identifying risks at the survey stage and factoring them into the specification. If a fire risk cannot be ruled out, then the specification must default to torch-free solutions, which range from cold-applied self-adhesive products to liquid-applied waterproofing. If it can subsequently be demonstrated that an area is safe then, providing all parties agree, the specification can revert to torch application.
Ultimately, Safe2Torch is more than a set of guidelines. It’s a campaign to educate the market and raise awareness of potential risks, putting safety first from initial design onwards. It aims to encourage contractors to re-think the way they’ve always done things, from surveying and planning works, through to training operatives and the equipment and products used.
Safe2Torch is making safe specifications and safe working practices second nature. Anyone involved in roofing should be pledging their support to the campaign and helping promote it – within the industry and outside it.
For more information on Safe2Torch or to pledge your support go to: www.nfrc.co.uk/safe2torch.