Why Safety Railings Are A Must, Even If You Rarely Access Your Commercial Rooftop

Why Safety Railings Are A Must, Even If You Rarely Access Your Commercial Rooftop

If you’re a commercial facility owner, roof fall protection might be the last thing on your mind. The idea of installing safety railings and guardrail systems can seem less of a priority to more demanding business objectives and, understandably, it can fall to the wayside. After all, if no one is up there regularly, shouldn’t you focus on more pressing concerns?

Unfortunately, this oversight can come back to haunt you. The truth is, you’ll likely have someone accessing your roof several times a year. Today we’re going to look at some situations that require rooftop access, and why roof fall protection is mission critical – for you, for your employees, and for your business.

5 Reasons Someone Will Be On Your Roof This Year

Believe it or not, there are plenty of reasons that someone may need to access the roof of a commercial building. And having fall protection like safety railings around hazards is a necessity to keep whoever is on the roof free from harm. Here are five reasons you’ll likely need someone up there this year alone:

  1. Routine Maintenance & Inspection: The general rule of thumb is that commercial rooftops should be inspected twice a year for damage and repairs, preferably in the spring and fall. This is a best practice that all commercial facility owners should adhere to so they can stay on top of any potential issues, like tearing or warping, before they arise.
  2. Inclement Weather & Leaks: Snow, ice, and rain can wreak havoc on your commercial rooftop. No matter what form water takes, as it accumulates, it can weigh down and deteriorate your roofing materials, seeping in and causing leaks. And when water freezes, it expands, doing even further damage. Since they can grow to a large problem in a short amount of time, you’ll want to repair leaks as they occur. If there is a significant amount of heavy snow on your roof, you may need to have someone clear it away. All of these scenarios can create a slippery situation for the person attending to them and the utmost roof fall protection should be taken to avoid incident.
  3. Debris Removal: It’s surprising how much debris can accumulate on a roof. Leaves, pine needles, twigs, acorns, garbage, a lost kite – you get the idea. They may seem small, but debris like this can cause significant problems to your roof if not removed promptly. Small debris can interfere with your drainage system, causing leaks. Damp debris can lead to mold and mildew, which can rot your roof and quickly spread to other parts of your building. Leaves and twigs can encourage small animals and birds to nest on (or in) your roof. And any sort of dry debris can be a fire waiting to happen – all it takes is one small ember.
  4. Skylight & HVAC maintenance: Many commercial buildings keep heating and cooling systems on the rooftop. As facility managers know, keeping your HVAC system working is critical to the performance of your building, overall. It’s a best practice to routinely check your HVAC system, preferably in the fall and spring before the extreme temperatures hit. Skylights also need to be regularly inspected for cracks, leaks, and other structural compromises, as well as be cleared of heavier debris.
  5. OSHA Inspections: Maintenance and repair aren’t the only reasons someone might be on your roof. You never know when a random OSHA inspection will occur. And when it does, you’ll want your compliant safety railings in place. Roof fall protection is a small investment compared to the fees your company could face down the road.

Download Rooftop Safety Audit GuideWhat You Can Do

Install the right protection before you need it. Rooftop guardrail systems are a crucial part of any commercial structure. It goes without saying that failure to install proper fall protection can lead to OSHA fines and put your workers’ well-being at risk. But fines and injuries can also lead to halted projects while your employees recover and you get into compliance, reducing productivity significantly. Adding safety railings to your rooftop ahead of time can go a long way in preventing issues down the road.

OSHA and Rooftop Safety

You may be wondering how these how OSHA inspections work. Basically, there are six types:

  1. Imminent Danger Situation: When there are hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm. These receive top priority and OSHA officers require employers to correct these problems immediately or remove the endangered employees.
  2. Severe Injuries and Illnesses: If you’ve reported a serious incident at your facility, an inspection will follow. (You can note the required reporting times here.)
  3. Worker Complaints: When a worker makes an allegation of hazards or violations. These also receive high priority.
  4. Referrals: Other federal, state, or local agencies, individuals, or organizations can make a referral to OSHA that your business be considered for inspection.
  5. Targeted Inspections: These are aimed at high-hazard industries or workplaces that have experienced high rates of illness and injury. These also take priority.
  6. Follow-Up Inspections: These inspections occur after prior violations to ensure abatement and compliance.

Many of these inspections can come as a surprise. Since OSHA allows employees and others to remain anonymous in their reporting, these inspections can seem random. Keep in mind that targeted inspections can occur even without a complaint, so you truly never know when they may occur.

Roof Fall Protection is Always A Priority

There are plenty of reasons you’ll need to grant access throughout the year. Fall safety is always a priority, whether it seems like it or not. Failure to install safety railings can lead you down a rabbit hole of fines, paperwork, headaches, and lost productivity, at best. The best way to stay ahead of the game is to get compliant now, before anyone needs to set foot on your roof — for whatever reason, whatever season.

If you need help figuring out what type of guardrail systems work best for your rooftop, talk to an expert at BlueWater today.

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