Accessing a rooftop is often a necessity for an employee. Is your rooftop as safe as it should be? Openings and Equipment, such as air conditioning units, are just of the few concerns to keep in mind when providing a safe work environment.
Skylights, smoke hatches/vents, courtyards, and other areas of the roof that are considered Openings, need to be protected.
Generally speaking polycarbonate rooflights are deemed to be non-fragile for the “construction phase” of a project. Once the project is handed over they are deemed as fragile due to the following:
- Non-fragility is dependent not only on the strength/durability of the rooflight material itself, but on all aspects of installation of an assembly. This may be compromised even if there is no loss of strength of the rooflight material. This is particularly true for in-plane rooflights.
- Whilst polycarbonate is an extremely strong and very durable material, there are some things that can cause dramatic and very premature failure – for example, plasticisers attack polycarbonate, so contact with plastisol coated steel or, worse, PVC tape (which contains much higher levels of plasticisers) will cause premature failure; permanent stresses in the material, certain chemicals, trapped water which can heat up can also all accelerate degradation.
- Industry interest groups would never recommend that nonfragility of any rooflight should be guaranteed in the long term, due to lack of control over the various factors other than strength of the rooflight that may affect non-fragility, but this is particularly true with polycarbonate where strength of the rooflight itself can be compromised if not treated correctly.
Frequently, the worker’s purpose for being on the roof is to service a piece of equipment. This may be an emergency servicing or routine maintenance. Is the equipment close to the edge of the roof?
- The UK HSE recommends that Full Edge Protection (top rail, toe board and intermediate protection) is required whenever the work requires access within 2 m of the roof perimeter.
- In North America OSHA recommends railing if equipment is within 15’ of the fall hazard (Assuming a good safety plan is already in place).
A safe workspace will allow a worker to focus on their task at hand without being concerned about the risk of falling. Remove all foreseeable risk from the equation to minimize the chance of a costly accident.
Do your part to separate people from hazards and maintain a safe work area.
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