Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a maintenance-free industrial rooftop. Summer may seem like a time when minimal maintenance is needed, but think again. Even the most durable roofs require periodic inspections and maintenance to foster their longevity and ensure their safety for employees and visitors. Let’s take a closer look at the key reasons to perform industrial rooftop maintenance in preparation for summer – and review the necessity for roof fall protection systems to protect your employees from falls and other injuries during rooftop inspections.
Summertime Rooftop Maintenance: Your 5 Point Plan
A comprehensive industrial rooftop maintenance plan is essential to keep your rooftop environment safe and structurally sound to accommodate employees and service personnel. Five of the most important elements to keep top of mind prior to summer include:
1) Air Conditioner Maintenance
For convenience and space, many companies opt to keep their air conditioning and HVAC systems on their roofs. While it’s great for space, rooftop systems are constantly exposed to grueling temperatures, harsh elements, and the sun’s rays. It’s generally a good idea to inspect your air conditioners before you need them – so spring/early summer is the time. Key maintenance tasks include making sure that your air conditioner’s suction line insulation is intact and that all condenser coils are free of dirt and debris.
2) Debris Removal
Most obviously, debris removal enhances your rooftop’s appearance. But more importantly, it also maintains the integrity of your rooftop – thereby extending its life. While it’s still necessary for periodic rooftop maintenance throughout the hot summer months, it’s helpful to do a clean-up beforehand to remove debris that accumulated throughout the spring before the heat of the season truly kicks in.
3) Roof Reconditioning
Today’s roof membranes are designed to be more resistant to chemicals, animal fats, and harsh pollutants than ever before. That said, roof membranes still don’t last forever. Continuous exposure to rain, sun, and repair personnel take their toll. Proper reconditioning can add years to your roof’s life. Early summer is the perfect time to get the job done – before the summer temperature rises, and well before the leaves of fall begin collecting.
4) Skylight Inspections and Maintenance
Skylights require annual inspections to make sure they are both functional and worry-free. A typical inspection includes looking for leaks, cracks, breaks, and faulty flashing. These damages go beyond cosmetic, they can contribute to glass failure and affect the interior of your building as well. Skylight inspections are easily done while you are inspecting the rest of the roof, but they do pose their own safety risks. Safety railings, guardrails, or other skylight protection should be taken into consideration to prevent falls through the glass and other injuries, as OSHA states that skylights are classified as “holes in a floor” and must be protected.
5) Mold & Algae Screening
Industrial rooftops are popular spots for mold, moss, and algae to grow. This is especially the case in the summer when humidity and moisture can collect. Failure to detect these culprits can lead to their accumulation which may ultimately compromise the structural integrity of your roof, as well as make for a slippery (and dangerous) work surface.
Eliminating the risk of falls and other employee injuries should be a top concern for any rooftop maintenance provider. Fortunately, roof fall protection systems are an excellent solution for maintenance and construction companies. In addition to their simplicity, safety railings and guardrails offer the following advantages:
- OSHA-Compliant: Reputable brands of safety railings undergo rigorous testing and comply with OSHA regulations.
- Versatile: They can be used for rooftop applications as well as ground level applications.
- Easy to Assemble: Many safety railings and guardrails are made to be set up with ease.
- Non-penetrating: Using non-penetrating rails means protection without damage to the roof or the roof’s membrane.
Remember that a roof fall protection system should be used in conjunction with highly visible safety signage as part of a comprehensive rooftop safety strategy. Additionally, stairs, crossovers, and platforms should be regularly evaluated to confirm their structural soundness.
Why is fall prevention especially important in the summer?
Maintenance specialists are more likely to tackle industrial rooftop inspections and repairs in the summer for a variety of reasons. First, the absence of snow makes it easier to spot and treat structural damage. Removal of debris and algae is also easier. Additionally, maintenance workers have longer access to daylight and working conditions are generally more pleasant in the summer.
Unfortunately, work-related injuries are more likely to be sustained during the summer than any other season. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) show that June, July, and August are the three months of the year with the highest injury rates. This makes fall prevention particularly critical during the summer months, especially when employees are more likely to be impacted by heat exhaustion.
The Bottom Line
It’s easy to see why summer is a popular season for industrial rooftop maintenance. Reduced precipitation, more pleasant working conditions, and longer daylight hours make it easier for maintenance employees to perform inspections and repair any damage. But given the increased risk to workers, it is imperative that companies take the proper measures to prevent falls and other injuries that can be sustained while maintaining a rooftop. With the help of guardrails and other roof fall protection systems, you can help prevent falls and comply with OSHA guidelines while you’re at it. The end result is a safer work area that ultimately yields a safer and more functional rooftop environment.