Bilco provides specification advice for roof hatches as part of its Bilco Assist service.

When specifying a roof hatch, consideration should be given as to how often the hatch will be used and if tools or equipment will be taken onto the roof.

Where frequent access is required and where space allows, it is recommended that a companionway or a fixed retractable ladder is installed. Where space is an issue or where infrequent access is identified the use of a fixed vertical ladder can be employed. It is not recommended that a moveable ladder is used.

All installations should be subject to individual Risk Assessments and operators should be supplied with adequate training and Method Statements for the use of access equipment.

Personnel / infrequent access

  • Roof Access Hatch should be capable of being operated safely using one hand while maintaining three points of contact on the ladder at all times.
  • The opening size of the Roof Hatch should be considered and should not exceed 1000 x 1000mm. Larger openings can be used however consideration must be given to the ease of opening and closing the cover.
  • The fixed vertical ladder should be positioned opposite the hinge of the Roof Access Hatch so that the open cover is behind the operator standing on the ladder.
  • The Roof Access Hatch should be positioned to ensure the safety of the operator when they exit onto the roof. Roof mounted equipment, parapet walls, and falls between roof levels should all be taken into consideration. Where a man-safe system is being employed the Roof Hatch should be positioned within 1000mm of the first post.
  • The open hatch should be closed or adequate fall protection should be in place to protect the opening when work is being carried out on the roof.
  • Ladders should be constructed and installed in accordance with BS4211:2005 + A1 2008
  • Consideration should be given to extendable handrails on ladder, such as the Bilco Ladder Up Safety Post, or fixed roof mounted grab rails to assist with egress from the ladder and also to assist re remounting.

Bilco Ladder Up Post in use

Personnel / frequent access with toolbox

  • Roof Access Hatch should be capable of being operated safely by one person while maintaining a balanced position on the ladder.
  • The opening size of the Roof Hatch should be sufficient to maintain a head clearance of 1200mm as detailed in BS5395-3
  • The Roof Access Hatch should be positioned to ensure the safety of the operator when they exit onto the roof. Roof mounted equipment, parapet walls, and falls between roof levels should all be taken into consideration. Where a man-safe system is being employed the Roof Hatch should be positioned within 1000mm of the first post.
  • The open hatch should be closed or adequate fall protection should be in place to protect the opening when work is being carried out on the roof.

Bilco Roof Hatch SSY-50T in open position

Personnel / frequent access with toolbox and small equipment

  • Roof Access Hatch should be capable of being operated safely by one person while maintaining a balanced position on the ladder.
  • The opening size of the Roof Hatch should be sufficient to maintain a head clearance of 2000mm as detailed in Building Regulations Part K.
  • The Roof Access Hatch should be positioned to ensure the safety of the operator when they exit onto the roof. Roof mounted equipment, parapet walls, and falls between roof levels should all be taken into consideration. Where a man-safe system is being employed the Roof Hatch should be positioned within 1000mm of the first post.
  • The open hatch should be closed or adequate fall protection should be in place to protect the opening when work is being carried out on the roof.

Bilco Roof Hatch SS-50T in use

Equipment access

  • Roof Access Hatch should be capable of being operated safely by one person. Depending on the size of the Hatch this may require opening from the outside. In this case a separate personnel Access Hatch should be installed to enable safe access onto the roof. Consideration can also be given to motorized operation to remove manual handling.
  • Adequate means of fall protection should be employed.

Ladder to outside of building

  • Ladder must be built in accordance with BS4211:2005
  • Consideration should be given to using alternative means of access to reduce climb heights.
  • Consideration should be given to security gates at the top or bottom of the ladder to restrict access.


Bilco provides specification advice for roof hatches as part of its Bilco Assist service.

When specifying a roof hatch, consideration should be given as to how often the hatch will be used and if tools or equipment will be taken onto the roof.

Where frequent access is required and where space allows, it is recommended that a companionway or a fixed retractable ladder is installed. Where space is an issue or where infrequent access is identified the use of a fixed vertical ladder can be employed. It is not recommended that a moveable ladder is used.

All installations should be subject to individual Risk Assessments and operators should be supplied with adequate training and Method Statements for the use of access equipment.

Personnel / infrequent access

  • Roof Access Hatch should be capable of being operated safely using one hand while maintaining three points of contact on the ladder at all times.
  • The opening size of the Roof Hatch should be considered and should not exceed 1000 x 1000mm. Larger openings can be used however consideration must be given to the ease of opening and closing the cover.
  • The fixed vertical ladder should be positioned opposite the hinge of the Roof Access Hatch so that the open cover is behind the operator standing on the ladder.
  • The Roof Access Hatch should be positioned to ensure the safety of the operator when they exit onto the roof. Roof mounted equipment, parapet walls, and falls between roof levels should all be taken into consideration. Where a man-safe system is being employed the Roof Hatch should be positioned within 1000mm of the first post.
  • The open hatch should be closed or adequate fall protection should be in place to protect the opening when work is being carried out on the roof.
  • Ladders should be constructed and installed in accordance with BS4211:2005 + A1 2008
  • Consideration should be given to extendable handrails on ladder, such as the Bilco Ladder Up Safety Post, or fixed roof mounted grab rails to assist with egress from the ladder and also to assist re remounting.

Bilco Ladder Up Post in use

Personnel / frequent access with toolbox

  • Roof Access Hatch should be capable of being operated safely by one person while maintaining a balanced position on the ladder.
  • The opening size of the Roof Hatch should be sufficient to maintain a head clearance of 1200mm as detailed in BS5395-3
  • The Roof Access Hatch should be positioned to ensure the safety of the operator when they exit onto the roof. Roof mounted equipment, parapet walls, and falls between roof levels should all be taken into consideration. Where a man-safe system is being employed the Roof Hatch should be positioned within 1000mm of the first post.
  • The open hatch should be closed or adequate fall protection should be in place to protect the opening when work is being carried out on the roof.

Bilco Roof Hatch SSY-50T in open position

Personnel / frequent access with toolbox and small equipment

  • Roof Access Hatch should be capable of being operated safely by one person while maintaining a balanced position on the ladder.
  • The opening size of the Roof Hatch should be sufficient to maintain a head clearance of 2000mm as detailed in Building Regulations Part K.
  • The Roof Access Hatch should be positioned to ensure the safety of the operator when they exit onto the roof. Roof mounted equipment, parapet walls, and falls between roof levels should all be taken into consideration. Where a man-safe system is being employed the Roof Hatch should be positioned within 1000mm of the first post.
  • The open hatch should be closed or adequate fall protection should be in place to protect the opening when work is being carried out on the roof.

Bilco Roof Hatch SS-50T in use

Equipment access

  • Roof Access Hatch should be capable of being operated safely by one person. Depending on the size of the Hatch this may require opening from the outside. In this case a separate personnel Access Hatch should be installed to enable safe access onto the roof. Consideration can also be given to motorized operation to remove manual handling.
  • Adequate means of fall protection should be employed.

Ladder to outside of building

  • Ladder must be built in accordance with BS4211:2005
  • Consideration should be given to using alternative means of access to reduce climb heights.
  • Consideration should be given to security gates at the top or bottom of the ladder to restrict access.


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No 20 Park Farm Business Centre
Fornham St Genevieve
Bury St Edmunds
IP28 6TS
Tel: 01284 701696
Fax: 01284 702531
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Design considerations for roof hatches