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Fall Protection Guard Rail Basics

Guard Rail Fall Protection Basics

OSHA names falling from heights as one of the most common causes of workplace injury and fatalities. Given the increased amount of cell tower, HVAC, solar panel, and general maintenance work taking place rooftops, it is both vital and mandatory that proper fall protection is provided. This is why roof safety rails are so important.

Based on the relevant OSHA standards 1910.28 and 1910.29 and their roof guardrail requirements, we've identified at least 4 areas of major concern for rooftop safety that would require a safety rail for roof system.

It is important to keep in mind that if a rooftop is as little as 4 feet above another structure, a guardrail may be required (OSHA 1910.28(b)(1)(I). This means that even elevated platforms on a rooftop may require guardrails.

(1) Access

rooftop access protection

Surprisingly, many falls happen when accessing or exiting a rooftop. A common access point that requires guardrail fall protection is a ladder system.

It is also not uncommon that door or stair access points require guardrail fall protection.

Guardrails are required in such cases because the access point is at the edge of the roof (in the case of a ladder) and/or it is less than six feet from the edge of the roof (in the case of stairs or a door). An integrated gate system may also be required.

(2) Edge

rooftop edge protection

Once rooftop access is safely made, the immediate area of concern is the rooftop edge. It is crucial that rooftop edges are properly protected if workers are less than six feet form the the rooftop edge (OSHA 1910.28(b)(13)(ii).

Importantly, even if the roof has a parapet wall, that may not be enough to provide proper protection. Most parapet walls are not tall enough to meet fall protection requirements.

(3) Equipment

rooftop equipment fall protection

Obviously, the main reason a worker is on a rooftop to begin with is to maintain and repair equipment. Common examples of such equipment are HVAC units, solar panels, and cell towers.

If any such equipment is located less than six feet from the rooftop edge, fall protection is required. Given the limitations of anchorage points on rooftops. Guardrails often provide the best method of fall protection.

(4) Openings

rooftop hatch fall protection

An often overlooked fall protection hazard on rooftops is rooftop hatches or skylights. Workers must be protected from falling through rooftop hatches or skylights. Hatches should not be left freestanding without barriers around them.

Multiple technologies exist to secure these fall hazards. Guardrail systems (with optional gates) can be an ideal method to secure these rooftop features.


Safety Rail 2000 diagram

The ideal solution to these four rooftop safety hazards is the Safety Rail 2000 roof safety rail system. Safety Rail 2000 guardrails offer solutions that can be adapted to just about any application.

Safety Rail 2000 is fully customizable. The rails are available in a variety of lengths. There are a variety of finishes available - powder coated yellow is the most popular. Gates kits are available to provide the needed protection to rooftop access points.

Don't hesitate to contact us for assistance. Even if you don't know where to start, we can give some guidance. Call us - 800-446.8274.

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