1. A Complete Guide For Safe & Secure Roof Access Systems
  2. Types of Roof Access Systems
    1. Ladders
    2. Stairs
    3. Hatches
    4. Walkways
    5. Vertical Access Systems
  3. Safety for Roof Access Systems
    1. Must Have Safety Equipment and Features
  4. Maintenance and Inspection
    1. Records
    2. Regular Inspections
    3. Checklists
  5. Roof Access Security
  6. Final Thoughts

Roof access systems are indispensable for a high-rise building maintenance company to carry out repairs and maintenance the right way. But, let’s face it, roof access can be risky business if not properly executed.

We, at Sonaa Abseiling Service, are experts at painting, façade and window cleaning, waterproofing, and remedial repairs, but none of that can happen without safe access to your roof! That’s why we’re here to lead the way and guide you through the different types of roof access systems available for your high-rise building. 

In this guide, we take a deep dive into all the nitty-gritty details, covering how to install a system that provides safe access to your roof, design considerations, installation, and finally, requirements for maintenance and inspection. 

Let’s go!

Types of Roof Access Systems

It’s impossible to address safety and security before talking about the different types of roof access systems. So let’s get into it! 

There are different access systems for climbing up to the rooftop, and each one has its advantages and disadvantages. The most popular choices are ladders, stairs, and hatches. 

A Complete Guide For Safe & Secure Roof Access Systems, Sonaa
A Complete Guide For Safe & Secure Roof Access Systems, Sonaa
A Complete Guide For Safe & Secure Roof Access Systems, Sonaa


The classic! The most basic type of roof access system! Ladders are perfect for low-rise buildings, but there are structures suitable for high-rise buildings as well. They come in various sizes and materials, from aluminium to stainless steel and fibreglass. You can choose from angled rung ladders, stepladders, vertical ladders, and cage ladders. Choosing the right type for your building will all boils down to its design. 

One of the significant advantages of using a ladder as a roof access system is its cost-effectiveness, which means you won’t have to break the bank to install one. Plus, they don’t require much upkeep, so you will save extra bucks in the long run. However, keep in mind that they may not be suitable for all buildings and some designs can be dangerous to use, especially if they are not appropriately secured to the building. So, make sure to take all the necessary precautions to avoid any potential hazards.


Stairs are more suited for high-rise buildings due to being significantly more stable and reliable, unlike your ex! They come in all sorts of materials, including steel, aluminium, and galvanised steel. Plus, they’re a safer option for maintenance personnel carrying equipment or tools up to the rooftop and back down again

And let’s not forget about appearances! Stairs are way more aesthetically pleasing than ladders, adding serious style points to your building. The only downsides are that they may require more upfront investment than ladders, as well as regular maintenance to ensure their sturdiness and safety. But hey, the extra expense will be well worth it to ensure the safety and aesthetics of your building.


Now, let’s talk about hatches. They are another type of roof access system and require being paired with less specialised ladders or stairs. They are like the James Bond of roof access systems — sleek, secure, and oh-so-cool. You can even customise hatches to fit your building’s specific needs, whether you’re looking for a particular size or material, like steel, fibreglass, or aluminium. And the best part? Hatches can be sealed and locked tight to prevent any unauthorised access, which makes them a top-notch choice for building security. 

When it comes to aesthetics, hatches are most definitely the way to go! However, they do require some upfront investment and the installation and maintenance can be a bit of a challenge. All in all, if you’re looking to step up your building’s security and style, hatches are worth considering.


Walkways are another popular choice for roof access systems in high-rise buildings. They are an absolute must for personnel to move around on the rooftop, especially when a lot of tools or equipment are involved. They’re typically steel or aluminium structures that are strong and long-lasting and can be customised to fit the building’s specs.

These structures have a few main perks. Firstly, they protect your roof from any foot traffic. Second, they provide a safe and non-slip surface for workers to move around. They can be a bit pricey, but if there will be a lot of heavy equipment and tools moving around on your roof, then a walkway is a must.

Vertical Access Systems

Vertical access systems (a fancy way of referring to lifts and hoists) are the most sophisticated type of roof access system available. It’s a way more convenient form of accessing the roof, especially when heavy loads are involved. Their advantage is that vertical access systems can be customised to fit the building’s specific needs and can provide secure access.

The main drawback here is that vertical access systems are the priciest of all and require regular maintenance to keep them in tip-top shape! No one wants to get stuck halfway up the building! Installation is also more complex, and they may require permits, so only opt for these if they’re absolutely necessary for your building’s maintenance.

Safety for Roof Access Systems

Safety comes first, right? It’s vital when it comes to installing proper roof access systems because no one wants the tragedy of falling off of a roof, much less the legal implications that could follow. This is why sticking to regulations and standards is so important for keeping the safety of everyone involved.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when designing a roof access system:

  • Don’t skip out on the warning signs and labels. Proper signage should be present at all access points and around the roof to let individuals know of potential hazards. This is especially important for buildings with a lot of people coming and going as they serve to warn anyone roaming around that they’re in a restricted area. Signs will keep unauthorised personnel from accessing the roof and also convey any necessary instructions. They can also warn of low clearance or uneven surfaces, which helps prevent accidents.
  • Training is crucial for anyone using a roof access system. Anyone with access to the roof, including property owners and managers, should receive comprehensive training and education on the proper use of the roof access system, as well as safety protocols and emergency procedures. This empowers individuals to make informed decisions, creates awareness of potential risks, and equips them with the knowledge to respond effectively in case of an emergency.
  • Don’t forget your PPE! That’s personal protective equipment, folks. Hard hats, safety glasses, safety vests, and fall protection gear, should always be worn when on the roof.

Must Have Safety Equipment and Features

  • Guardrails and Handrails: These should be along the access path and around the roof perimeter to help prevent accidental slips and falls, both acting as a physical barrier and support for those using the access system.
  • Harnesses and Safety Lines: Anyone with access to the roof should wear PPE, such as safety harnesses and lanyards. Safety lines can also be attached to secure anchor points, ensuring that individuals working on the roof are tied off and protected in case of a fall. Most contractors will have their own equipment, but if your building requires constant maintenance work, it’s a good idea to have some on hand.
  • Non-Slip Surfaces: A roof access system should have non-slip surfaces or anti-skid coatings to minimize the risks of accidents. These provide traction and a stable surface for making one’s way through the roof.
  • Lighting: Adequate lighting for roof access points is extremely important for emergencies and for illuminating poorly lit areas. Well-lit access systems reduce the risk of accidents or missteps due to low-lighting conditions, such as cloudy days or shadows cast by other taller buildings.
  • Emergency Equipment: This is an absolute must! Emergency equipment should be readily available in case of an incident. This may include first aid kits, fire extinguishers, and emergency communication devices.

Remember, safety requirements may vary depending on the specific regulations and guidelines in your area. Therefore, be sure to always consult your local authorities and adhere to any safety compliance standards when implementing a roof access system and selecting the necessary safety equipment.

Maintenance and Inspection

Let’s talk about the importance of maintenance. It’s a no-brainer! What you take care of takes care of you, and the same goes for your roof access system. Regular maintenance will keep everything working smoothly, but it’s also crucial for detecting any safety issues that need to be addressed early on. Here are three things to keep in mind:


Be sure to keep records of all maintenance and inspections! This will allow you to keep track of any work done on the roof and its access systems and know precisely when any issues were detected. This way, you can stay on top of any problems and make sure everything is in good shape. It’s like having a diary for your roof!

Regular Inspections

Periodic inspections are essential. Think of them like a visit to the dentist — you should go routinely for dental cleanings and not just when you have cavities. That way you catch things before they become major problems! When it comes to roof safety and access systems, you don’t want to wait til something goes wrong. So be sure to conduct annual inspections. You should also do a check-up in cases of extreme weather, which can damage roof access systems.


During your inspections, be sure to have a checklist on hand so that you don’t miss a single detail. Check for rust, corrosion, loose bolts, wobbly structures, and so on. Fix any issues immediately! Also don’t forget to check all the safety equipment such as harnesses, helmets, anchors, and lanyards to ensure they’re in good condition.

With regular maintenance and inspections, your roof access systems will be safe and in shape!

Roof Access Security

Now that we have covered the topic of safety, we can move on to security, and no, it’s not the same! When it comes to roof access security, we’re talking about who has access to the area and the measures in place to avoid any trespassers. Unauthorised access to the roof can be extremely dangerous, possibly leading to significant damage to the building, and in the worst-case scenario, accidents.

Here are some security measures for roof access systems:

  • Restrict access to authorised personnel only. The roof should only be accessible to those who have a legitimate reason to be there. This can be controlled by installing locks, key cards, keypads, or biometrics scanners to ensure that only authorised personnel can gain access.
  • Install security cameras. Monitor the area surrounding the roof access system to detect any unauthorised access. This is also useful for identifying any potential safety hazards.
  • Ensure the roof access system is secure when not in use. This means locking hatches or doors, following all protocols, and ensuring any ladders, stairs, and safety equipment are properly stored.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve made it this far through this guide, you know by not that a safe a secure roof access system is of utmost importance for any high-rise building. No matter what type of access system you choose for your roof, it’s essential to prioritise safety and security by implementing regular maintenance, conducting inspections, and following all security protocols such as installing security cameras and restricting access.

If you’re a building owner or property manager in Eastern Suburbs, Western Sydney, and Sutherland Shire, you know that maintaining your high-rise building can be a hassle. That’s where Sonaa Abseiling Service can help! We specialise in high-rise building maintenance and will ensure it gets the upkeep it needs while tailoring solutions for restoring your particular building to its former appearance and functionality.

Give us a call at 04 4917 8470 or email us at info@sonaa.com.au and ask about our free quotations! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also visit us here to get in touch.

Now you’re one step closer to a safe, secure, and functional roof access system!