When customers and vendors think of your company or brand, they have a very specific perception. After all, you work hard to maintain a positive image and convey the values that are important to your company. Those values must make their way into every touch point and reinforce your brand image – professionally and aesthetically.
If your corporate headquarters and other facilities are highly visible, you’ve undoubtedly spent a great deal of capital on both design and construction. While your building may have some beautiful architectural design elements, it must also have roof fall protection in place to comply with OSHA standards. So the question is – can you preserve your building’s unique style and still achieve OSHA compliance? Thankfully, the answer is yes. This article will discuss some of the options and considerations for architecturally attractive fall protection systems for roofs.
Architectural Guard Rails
Appearance is everything when it comes to making an impression, especially for a large building. However, safety is also a primary concern, and guard rails are required even in the most elaborately designed building. The problem with traditional roof fall protection systems is they stand out against the sight line of the roof. Rails are often brightly painted in a color that not only doesn’t complement the building, but calls attention to their existence. Architectural guard rails, on the other hand, all but disappear, seemingly blending into the roofline. They are designed to provide passive fall protection for workers right up to the leading edge and around vulnerable locations such as skylights and access hatches, while enhancing the building’s appearance, instead of detracting from it.
Collapsible Guard rails
Most rooftops are not in constant use by maintenance crews, and a fall protection system is only necessary when there are people on the roof. Because of this, many organizations choose a collapsible guardrail system to satisfy the need for safety while still maintaining a clean sightline from ground level. The aesthetic of the building is allowed to shine when the railing is not in use, and is only minimally affected when it is. What’s more, they can easily be integrated into any structural design. Protecting the leading edge of the roof or mechanical elements such as air conditioners, heaters, and other systems is a simple matter of raising the guard rail in place and then releasing it when the work is completed.
Ensuring Structural Integrity as Well as Architectural Integrity
Traditional guard rail systems on roofs attach directly to the roof’s substrate by welding or using bolts, making them strong and sturdy. While that may seem like a benefit, it is actually a major problem waiting to happen. Whenever the roof is penetrated, even by something as small as a screw, it undermines the structural integrity of the roof. Water will eventually work its way into those openings, seeping under the roof coating and into the structure. This will result in a degradation of the roof at a much faster rate, and it can cause structural problems within the building. A far more attractive method is a non-penetrating rail system, which ensures the integrity of the roof while still providing fall protection that meets or exceeds safety requirements and regulations.
Return on Investment
Investing in rooftop fall protection is not just a legal requirement, it’s also good business practice. While profits may be the main priority for your company, minimizing expenses can be just as important. Worker injuries due to falls cost companies billions of dollars every year, and mitigating those expenses is vital to a company’s budget. Not only that, but fall protection will instill a sense of confidence in employees that the company they work for cares about their safety and well-being – an investment in keeping good workers onboard. In this way, both decreasing the chance of employee injury and building trust throughout your organization can help you with ROI in the long term.
New Construction or Retrofit
Stealth guard rails and architecturally friendly guard rails are ideal for new construction and can be installed immediately after the roof is completed. This allows construction crews and other tradesmen to access the roof area for finishing touches while still allowing complete access to the leading edge. Because these rails are flexible in their design, they’re also perfect for existing structures, either as a replacement for an existing roof fall protection system, or for a previously unprotected rooftop. In either case, you’ll want to make sure you purchase rails that are well-constructed, reliable, and easy to install. You can even find custom-designed systems created for a specific area of your rooftop or if you have a uniquely shaped roof.
The cost of maintaining a commercial building is substantial, especially when looked at over the entire lifespan of the structure. From the building’s HVAC system to ground level drainage, every aspect of the building must be monitored, and repairs or replacements have to be made in a timely manner. The same holds true for standard rooftop fall protection guard rails that penetrate the substrate of the roof. It will be necessary, over time, to seal up the areas around the fastening points to eliminate water leaks and moisture penetration. However, with non-penetrating guard rails, the maintenance is virtually nil. Both galvanized and powder-coated rails resist scratches, dings, and rust, so they’ll last for many years without needing to be replaced. What’s more, they’ll stand up to all types of weather without fail.
Your company invests heavily in its brand image, both to attract new business and encourage long-term success. The buildings you own and maintain are a huge part of that image. However, unless you’re also providing roof fall protection systems that are OSHA compliant and complement the architecture of the building, the picture isn’t quite complete.