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NFRC issues Safety Alert urging roofers to check battens

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Operatives and managers on site should be aware that a large volume of non-standard battens, falsely-coloured and/or stamped with BS 5534, have entered the UK market.

Download or view the NFRC Safety Alert on non-standard battens

NFRC has issued a Safety Alert to highlight the issue, giving operatives and managers guidance 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: battens that do not comply with BS 5534 have the potential to cause roof failures and accidents. This 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.

Identifying compliant battens

BS 5334 states that all graded battens should be marked with the following:

  • Suppliers’ details
  • Batten size
  • Species
  • Relevant Standard (in this case BS 5534)
  • Third-party certification.

All battens should be individually marked.

NFRC is chairing a working group on this issue, made up of contractors, manufacturers and merchants. If you have information you would like to share with the group on the topic of non-standard inferior battens being supplied and used, please contact the NFRC Technical team via Joanne Lear.

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