How to get it right: Working at height with roof battens

Blog Post
Roofing contractor working on roof

Roofing is a high-risk activity. Working at height, sometimes with fragile materials, means roofers make up nearly a quarter of all workers killed in falls from height at work. Some of these accidents occur because of sub-standard roof battens.

In a bid to improve safety, a requirement to grade roofing battens was introduced. But ten years later, many roofing battens used in the UK are not factory-graded. They are either fixed ungraded or have some grading on site - frequently by personnel who have had no formal training.

There is a quality variation and there is concern that some of the smaller Baltic States producers may not be properly stress-grading battens. It is best to buy from a supplier that has UKAS third-party accreditation. A number of suppliers use colour coding - red, yellow or blue - in accordance with BS5534*. UK manufacturer John Brash produces JB RED, which also has BRE product certification. SR Timber colour-codes its Baltic states-manufactured graded battens gold.

Getting it right: roof battens

  • All roof battens should be graded in accordance with BS5534
  • Roofing battens should be a minimum size of 50mm X 25mm
  • Follow the safe system of work:

      -  Battens should be at least 1.2m long to ensure they span a minimum of three trusses
      -  Battens should only be fixed with the recommended nails
      -  Never deliberately walk on the battens mid-span between the trusses
      -  Always walk on the rafter line when installing tiles and slates

Find out more about ensuring safety at height by reading our guidance on the proper use of roofing battens and forwarding it to your peers.

Further information

Read our other 'How to get it right' articles

Please Note: Every care was taken to ensure the information was correct at the time of publication. Any written guidance provided does not replace the user’s professional judgement. It is the responsibility of the dutyholder or person carrying out the work to ensure compliance with relevant building regulations or applicable technical standards.



Submitted 3 years 9 months ago

Your article suggests that all roofing battens must be 50x25mm minimum. This is incorrect as it applies only to spans between rafters of 600mm or more.


Submitted 3 years 9 months ago

Hello and thanks for your comment. The article tried to offer a general rule of thumb for batten sizing. Dependant on the tile type, centres and manufacturer recommendations, batten sizes may vary.

Julie, LABC

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