Safe2Torch – What Architects Need to Know

Safe2Torch is the new NFRC backed strategy to reduce the risk of roof fires. In this post, we set out what Safe2Torch is, what we are doing to implement the strategy and support the campaign, and what architects need to know about safety with hot works on roofs.

What is Safe2Torch?

Safe2Torch is a new risk assessment strategy instigated by the NFRC (National Federation of Roofing Contractors), which aims to reduce the risk of roof fires when using gas torches on roofs.

It is designed to support specification writers in complying with the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015, which state that,

“The person who selects products for use in construction is a designer and must take account of health and safety issues arising from their use. If a product is purpose-built, the person who prepares the specification is a designer and so are manufacturers, if they develop a detailed design.”

The Safe2Torch strategy is therefore important for anyone involved in the design, specification and installation of roofing in the UK.

Why Safe2Torch is important

The NFRC states that Safe2Torch will affect at least 50% of all flat roofs installed in the UK,  because hot works are so prevalent in our industry. “Hot works” include drying substrate, cutting, grinding and welding, torch on roofing and bitumen boilers.

Roof fires caused by hot works currently pose a serious threat to life, property and the image of the industry.  Kevin Taylor, Head of Technical Services at NFRC, also believes that they “pose a threat to even the long-term future of torch-on as an accepted method of covering a roof.”

Stephen Cleminson, Technical Manager at SIG D&T agrees.

“Anything that reduces potential risk on site is to be welcomed,” he says, “and we also welcome the intelligent, holistic approach of this strategy, which tackles survey, specification and installation, and reduces the potential of poor installation spoiling the good name of a well-used and high quality product such as torch-on roofing”.

Safe2Torch is designed to confirm that where there is a fire risk (or a fire risk cannot be ruled out) designers and installers will default to torch-free solutions, and revert to torch application only if it is proven safe and agreed between all parties.

To assist in the implementation of this new strategy, the NFRC have produced a guidance document, a checklist and a ‘Safe2Torch Pledge’ to which designers and installers can commit.

Safe2Torch Areas

Safe2Torch Guidance

Safe2Torch GuidanceThe Safe2Torch guidance is set out in an illustrated document which is free to download. The guidance sets out:

  1. What Hot Works are;
  2. Responsible Specification Writing and amendments;
  3. Advice on gas bottles, torches and fire extinguishers;
  4. Pre-Hot Works checks and other Pre-work checks;
  5. Drying Roofs, and
  6. Training

The guidance also includes a checklist that should be completed by anyone preparing a specification where hot works may be included. The checklist sets out a range of circumstances in which direct torch-on applications should be avoided, and the guidance the offers a range of alternative applications to use.

The Safe2Torch Pledge

As part of their campaign to spread the use of the Safe2Torch guidance, the NFRC has urged all designers and installers to sign the Safe2Torch pledge.

SIG Design and Technology is a Safe2Torch Registered Member, and has signed up to the Safe2Torch Pledge which states that we will:

  • Highlight and report specifications which do not conform to Safe2Torch;
  • Identify and reduce the risk of roof fires caused by gas torches;
  • Ensure all employees are trained in the use of gas torches and their associated risks;
  • Ensure all supervisors or charge hands have completed the Safe2Torch checklist prior to hot works commencing.

As we are also roofing designers and operators of an accredited contractor scheme (DATAC), SIG Design and Technology has also pledged to:

  • Require all our DATAC and SIGnature contractors to sign up to the Safe2Torch Pledge in their own right;
  • Introduce training to DATAC and SIGnature contractors to ensure they are aware of the risks of hot works, and
  • Provide support and advice to specifiers with whom we work.

Stephen Cleminson explains:

“We already apply these principles in our designing and specifying of roofing,” he says. “Our DATAC installers are professionals; Safe2Torch allows them to demonstrate that expertise to their customers and give them peace of mind. By signing up to Safe2Torch our installers are giving their customers a simple way of identifying that expertise.”

What Architects can do about Safe2Torch

As a designer, you will be familiar with your responsibilities under the CDM Regs 2015. The Safe2Torch guidance should help you ensure your responsibilities regarding roof design and hot works are fulfilled.

The simplest way to do this would be to use a deck-up roofing package designer that is a Safe2Torch Registered Member to design your roofs. With SIG Design and Technology our complete design, product selection, supply, accredited contractor system, inspection and guarantee service is free to clients and specifiers, so there is no additional cost for this peace of mind.

You can also advise your clients to require Safe2Torch members as roofing package designer, manufacturer and specialist roofing contractor on their projects. Show them this page which sets out Safe2Torch from the perspective of the client and provides additional information.

More information

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Got a question about Safe2Torch? Ask us in the comments, or drop us a line.