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Seven is considered a lucky number. There are seven colors of the rainbow, seven wonders of the ancient world, and seven dwarves proved lucky for Snow White. When it comes to rooftop fall protection, though, luck has nothing to do with it.
From roof access to roof edges and working spaces in between, Canada Occupational Safety and Health Regulations, SOR/86-304, Sections 12.01 to 12.09 cover a wide range of situations that require fall protection systems or fall protection equipment.
In addition to having the proper fall protection and fall arrest systems, employers also need to ensure that their employees have working-at-height training. The regulations generally consider 3 meters (approx. 10 feet) as the distance for working from heights.
Rooftop safety begins with safe access to the roof. Ladders are often used to reach the roof, but the transition point between the ladder and the roof’s surface is a danger zone. This gap should be protected by a self-closing safety gate. Flanked by guardrails and surrounding supports, the safety gate presents an easy-to-identify access point to enter and leave the roof.
Another way to access the roof is through a roof hatch that—like a ladder—needs a self-closing safety gate at the transition point with surrounding guardrail protection. The gate can also serve as a grab bar when entering or exiting the roof.
Roof hatch railings with safety gates fit hatches from all major manufacturers and are available for use with virtually every hatch style, including standard, forward barrier, offset, double-leaf, and fire vents.
Once on the roof, the clearest and most apparent danger is the roof edge. For flat and low-slope roofs, a perimeter guardrail system is the preferred way to prevent workers from falling off the roof because it is a “collective” system. Roof edge safety railings collectively protect multiple workers at once without the need to do a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) and does not require specialized training.
Snow and ice during the winter and wet conditions during other seasons can make any roof slippery. A modular roof walkway system assembled with corrosion-resistant frames and anti-slip treads provides a stable pathway for workers. Even in dry conditions, a walkway is important because it can be used on flat, barrel, or sloped roofs and configured for changes in level up to 35 degrees. The walkway also protects the roof surface from foot traffic and crossover obstructions, such as piping.
Lifelines are often top-of-mind for rooftop fall protection. A specialized type of engineered lifeline that also provides travel restraint is a horizontal lifeline system. It offers versatility to be used on a wide range of roofs: membrane, metal sheet, and structural, installed overhead, or side-mounted to concrete, brick, steel, or stonework.
Whether for fall arrest or fall restraint, every lifeline requires an appropriate anchor with proper anchor strength. If the lifeline system does not have a built-in anchor or cannot be affixed to a suitable anchor point, there are available alternatives.
A fixed or permanent roof anchor point can be installed on a wide range of roof types with underlying structures of steel, concrete, or wood. Mobile anchors do not penetrate the roof and can be positioned and moved on flat or low-slope roofs (up to a 5-degree pitch).
As building support systems become more numerous and complex—HVAC, air filtration, solar power—maintenance and repair operations become more prevalent. Roof platforms with guardrails afford workers a localized measure of fall protection while accessing equipment for servicing. These modular roof platforms can be reconfigured or customized (e.g., adjustable height, electrical connections).
Skylights are popular because they bring sunshine and good cheer into the interior of a building. Yet, skylights are considered a hole in the roof that a worker can easily fall through because they are often fragile or cannot support the weight of a person. Skylight screens and skylight railings are two effective ways to protect workers from falling into skylights without blocking the beautiful sun.
Employees can be properly equipped and well-protected by rooftop fall protection systems, but greater peace of mind will come with certified training. Courses in critical areas such as IRATA Rope Access Training, Harness & Lanyard, Horizontal Lifelines, Rescue After Fall, and others can enable supervisors and workers alike to use and inspect equipment correctly and recognize hazards that need to be addressed. After all, there are seven days a week, and comprehensive roof safety is a priority every day.
Kee Safety: Your Fall Protection Experts
Kee Safety is the world’s leading fall protection expert. We engineer, manufacture and install fall protection solutions that safely separate people from hazards. Our OH&S-compliant products and systems are third-party tested and trusted to ensure consistent performance at the highest level.