FAQs: Rooftop Walkway Protection

December 14, 2021

Workers on the roof making you sweat? Wondering about the damage they could cause from dropped tools or frequent foot traffic? Don’t wait for destruction to occur; prevent it!

Who Needs Roof Walkway Protection?

“Any facility with rooftop equipment that needs maintained and is utilized as a work platform could benefit from walkway pad,” says James (J.J.) Longerbeam, Vice President Service, D. C. Taylor Co., Cedar Rapids, IA.

close up of a person wearing jeans and boots walking on a commercial flat roof

What is Walkway Protection?

Not only does walkway protection reinforce the membrane to prevent punctures and reduce surface wear on single-ply membranes, but it also provides excellent traction for rooftop workers. There are several options available; we’ll address the most common.

Walkway pad/mats

Either rolls or precut sections of walkway pad/mats are installed loose laid, with adhesive, or most often, by heat welding. Using a professional roofing contractor ensures proper installation and material compatibility with the existing roof system. It’s important to consider the type of roof system you have when selecting walkway pads or mat. “Black mats will intensify the UV deterioration of white membrane,” notes Longerbeam.

Elevated walkway

When combined with guard rail, elevated walkways can be an effective solution for rooftops with an extensive network of pipes. Not only can workers avoid falls and damage to the roof, but you won’t have to worry about individuals tripping/stepping on (or jumping over) conduit. These systems can either be attached to a metal roof’s standing seams or, for single-ply membrane roofs, set on top of the roof and supported by metal legs with rubber feet (like pipe supports). Expect some level of custom fabrication and a higher cost.

Where should it be installed?

Install walkway protection from roof access points (e.g. roof hatches, ladders, etc.) to any rooftop equipment that personnel will be performing maintenance on. It should extend around the equipment, so service workers can remove and set access panel doors on the walkway pad instead of the roof membrane (a common cause for punctures). Consideration should be given to the safest route to equipment, avoiding the leading edge.

When and how should it be installed?

“When walkway pads are welded to the roof membrane, we recommend installing them in the early years of the roof membrane,” suggests Longerbeam. Another consideration with installation is drainage. It’s important that the walkway protection not impede water’s path. “If the walkway pad comes up to a seam, it is cut and welded so that we aren’t welding walkway pad over laps. If the walkway pad runs with the sheet of membrane, it would then be run continuously,” he adds.

Why isn’t it enough?

Walkway pad is not a substitute for fall protection! Contractors or facility personnel working on rooftops still need to comply with OSHA’s General Industry Walking-Working Surface regulations and standards. Advise workers to stay on the paths designated; however, additional safety measures should be implemented to protect workers from falls.

Contact D. C. Taylor Co. today at 319.731.4118 to discuss the addition of walkway protection on your roof.

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