Permanent Fall Protection from Commercial Roofs

March 10, 2012

After fatalities resulted from falls through and off company roofs, a nationwide manufacturer took immediate action to ensure that those two accidents were its last. D. C. Taylor Co., which has provided permanent fall protection services since 2006, was contracted to help the manufacturer provide a safer working environment on five of its roofs in 2011.

The manufacturer’s No. 1 goal was to protect individuals performing maintenance work on the roof from preventable falls. It was D. C. Taylor Co.’s job to help them achieve this goal through the installation of OSHA-compliant permanent fall protection and subsequent training.

The most complex of the five projects D. C. Taylor Co. completed for the manufacturer was at its Henderson, NC, facility. Fall protection systems were installed at three of the site’s buildings by D. C. Taylor Co.’s certified installers after a Service Project Manager spent a day and a half on-site planning.

This $83,000 installation included three new ladders and seven Guardian Fall Protection and XSPlatforms XTS Horizontal Lifeline systems, totaling more than 1,200 lineal feet of horizontal lifeline mounted on built-up, TPO, and EPDM roof systems.

Implementing countermeasures and fall protection systems to protect employees and contractors as they traverse the roof not only provides a safer working environment, but also demonstrates compliance with OSHA regulations.

OSHA has standards in both the General Industry regulations (1910.23) and the Construction regulations (1926.500-1926.503) that mandate and direct the requirements and use of fall protection. Failure to comply with OSHA regulations increases the likelihood of both fines and fatalities.

Areas of the roof that pose the most danger are skylights, roof hatches, and other holes that an individual could fall through, as well as the perimeter edge where an individual could fall off.

There are four main types of systems that can be applied to achieve OSHA compliance and prevent fall-related accidents.

  1. Guardrails.
  2. Skylight screens or nets.
  3. Horizontal lifeline system.
  4. Ladder protection.

Guardrails provide a physical barrier around roof hatches, parapet walls, and skylights. While effective, they can impact a facility’s aesthetics. Skylight screens or nets are another passive fall protection product and can prevent individuals from falling through to the level below.

A horizontal lifeline system is comprised of roof anchors and a cable lifeline to which individuals wearing body harnesses connect. While this won’t always prevent a fall, it will reduce the likelihood of an injury or fatality.

Providing permanent ladders at worker points of access and ensuring that they meet OSHA regulations (e.g. ladders with safety cages, wells, etc.) can reduce the likelihood of injuries and fatalities.

When you contract with D. C. Taylor Co. for permanent fall protection, its professionals initiate the service with a thorough understanding and confirmation of your needs and facility requirements. By answering questions about the following, D. C. Taylor Co. can assess the potential for falls from and through the roof at your facility(s).

  1. The activities which are performed that create a fall exposure.
  2. The number of individuals performing these activities and their frequency.

Additionally, a fall hazard survey inventories the roof and identifies the condition of components (e.g. deteriorated decking, unprotected edges, skylights, etc.) that pose a risk, as well as any existing passive fall protection, fall arrest, or fall restraint systems already in place.

D. C. Taylor Co.’s crews are not only certified to install permanent fall protection systems, but are also qualified to provide your employees instruction on the proper use of the equipment.

For more information visit D. C. Taylor Co.