D. C. Taylor Co. Helps Industrial Plant Get Serious About Rooftop Safety

March 26, 2019

As an industrial plant along the Iowa-Nebraska border aged, so did the rooftop units. It was time to provide maintenance on the equipment and vents installed on the roofs. With a vigilant approach to safety, the company’s leadership was keen to improve rooftop safety for its workers.

D. C. Taylor Co. worked with a general contractor and facility representatives to gain an understanding of the plant’s permanent fall protection needs in December of 2017. By the following summer, the facility’s team was ready to act, the contract was signed in August, and work began that fall.

Determining the Needs

The first step in determining how best to protect the plant’s rooftop workers was conducting a Fall Hazard Survey. D. C. Taylor Co.’s J. J. Longerbeam (Vice President Service) met with the general contractor and customer representatives to collect information. It was critical to identify what activities would be performed on the roofs, who and how many individuals are performing rooftop work, and the frequency of the activities. It was equally important to understand the customer’s vision for (and/or preferred) permanent fall protection equipment and its use. J.J. then surveyed the roof areas to identify fall hazards and developed a roof plan and detailed drawings of the roof, roof perimeter, and projections.

The entire plant consists of many buildings with more than a dozen roof areas total. The roofs are complex and multi-level; some even are steep slope. The highest roof area was 170 feet from the ground. The plant’s safety team mandated a strict 100-percent tie-off requirement for their employees working on the roof.

It was determined that the first phase of the permanent fall protection installation would include four roof areas with a combined total of nearly 50,000 square feet. Permanent fall protection systems will be installed on the remaining roof areas in future phases.

Unique Design

While horizontal lifelines are designed for use by two people, the company wanted as many as four workers on the roof at once. Adding to the challenge was the congestion inside the facilities. Operations would continue during the installation; it wasn’t possible to use an aerial work platform (AWP) because of activity inside the facility and in one instance, because of a controlled confined area.

J.J. supplied all of the photos and information he had collected from conversations and the Fall Hazard Survey to Engineered Services Group (ESG), a division of Guardian Fall Protection that specializes in project engineering. While the original plan was to install the system by setting up internal scaffolding, J.J. suggested another approach. Based on past experiences with XSPlatforms’ toggle anchors, it was decided to locate and drill through the insulated metal panel roofing system and purlins underneath. While this installation method was slower, it offered significant cost savings and less disruption to facility operations.

Toggle Anchor Installation

In early November of 2018, a two-man team from D. C. Taylor Co. arrived to install 38 toggle anchors for the elaborate horizontal lifeline system.  Thirty-two (32) additional toggle anchors were installed as single-point anchors. All were flashed per manufacturer’s specifications. A combined total of approximately 850 lineal feet of linked lifeline systems were installed on the roof areas.

Customized double-leg lanyards were also designed and implemented, enabling workers tied off to one single anchor point or a horizontal lifeline to tie off to another before unhooking from the previous one. Continuous horizontal lifelines alone would not be able to support four rooftop workers. With the layout of this permanent fall protection system, the first two workers are able to connect to the next anchor or lifeline to allow two more people to hook up.

The installation took two and a half weeks. Rick Primmer, Service Project Supervisor, D. C. Taylor Co., had previously undertaken Guardian Fall Protection’s training to become a certified installer for XSPlatforms. This required one day of classroom training on all XSPlatforms system components and OSHA rules and regulations, as well as two-day competent person training. He used his expertise to instruct fellow Service Project Supervisor Alfredo Hernandez, who has since received the same training.

On-site Instruction

The industrial plant will have workers on the roof quarterly (or more if needed) when rooftop units require maintenance. It’s not enough to just install permanent fall protection systems; training is imperative. Rick held a two-hour training for eight employees at the site. They were taught how to use the anchor points and horizontal lifeline and, just as importantly, how to transfer from one to the other.

D. C. Taylor Co. is currently in talks with the customer to install permanent fall protection on 14 of the plant’s remaining roof areas.

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