Safety warning over non-standard battens in UK

Safety warning over non-standard battens in UK

The National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) has issued a safety alert after a large volume of non-standard battens, falsely coloured and/or stamped with BS 5534, entered the UK market.

The trade association for the roofing industry has published guidance for site operatives and managers on how to check that the battens they are receiving are compliant.

The appearance of these battens is thought to be due, at least in part, to the high demand for treated timber which was compounded by the shortages created by conflict in Ukraine, Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. The battens have been falsely stamped with BS 5334 and/or falsely coloured, and then marketed as compliant.

Non-compliant battens should not be installed as battens that do not comply with BS 5534 have the potential to cause roof failures and accidents.

The risk of accidents increases when the roof battens are being used as an alternative to a roof ladder, and are therefore taking the additional live load of the operative installing the roof, or an operative conducting repairs, months or years down the line.

There is also the issue of quality assurance for the whole roof system: using inferior battens could have a negative impact on the longevity of the roof.

HSG33 Health and Safety in Roof Work, from HSE, states that battens must be a minimum size of 50 mm x 25 mm (maximum span 600 mm) or 38 mm x 25 mm (maximum span 450 mm) and meet the grading requirements specified in BS 5534: Code of practice for slating and tiling, and included in NFRC Technical Bulletin 33, Graded battens for slating and tiling.

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