A man named Joe, who worked for the same roofing company for 25 years, fell through the skylight pictured above to his death. He was not wearing any fall protection and the skylight was not protected in any way. California's Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) put together this short video to honor Joe's life to remind us all that safety is not about statistics, but about real people who do not go home at the end of the day. On average 16 people die at work every day in the United States. That number is too high! This video will inspire you to work safer in any environment, but especially on roofs, working around unprotected skylights.
This Could Have Been Prevented with Skylight Fall Protection
As the video points out there are several types of fall protection available for protecting skylights.
The most popular skyilight fall protection option is the skylight screen. The skylight screen is designed to connect to the outside of the skylight and form a protective barrier when people trip or fall into the skylight. The screen will prevent the worker from falling through the skylight, saving their life and protecting them from a potentially fatal fall.
Another option for protecting a skylight is to use a guardrail system that forms a protective boundary around the skylight screen. Skylight guardrail, like Kee Dome, is designed to be non-penetrating so it will not cause any problems with the roof.
Further options, such as temporary weighted anchor points are available for the contractor who has to access the roof in many locations on a limited basis.
Connect with our solutions team to learn more about skylight fall protection solutions.
OSHA regulations can be tricky. There are regulations that apply to specific industries and others that apply to any type of workplace that meets certain criteria. Since the wording of some regulations is vague or imprecise, there are often interpretations of the regulations and exceptions to know about, too.
So how do you know which OSHA regulations apply to your business? Here are some steps to follow to get to the right place.
- Does your state have its own OSHA program or does federal OSHA have jurisdiction in your state? About half of the states in the U.S. administer their own OSHA programs. Federal OSHA enforces its own regulations in the remaining states. Go to www.osha.gov to see which states enforce their own plans.
- If you are in a ‘state-plan state,’ find the state OSHA’s web site. Nearly all of the state OSHA programs have their regulations online. If you are in a federal OSHA state, stay at www.osha.gov and go to the Regulations page. The online resources available are abundant.
- What is your company's industry? That can make a difference in which regulations apply to you. In California, for example, which is a state plan state, there are different “trigger heights” for fall protection that depend on the industry and even the construction trade.
For Example: California framers on certain construction jobs are not required to use fall protection until they get above 15’; roofers have a 20’ trigger height and ironworkers, with some exceptions, have a 30’ trigger height. However, non-construction worksites have a trigger height of only 7 1/2’. Some exceptions and additional requirements that may apply.
- Before reading the regulations from beginning to end, check your OSHA web site for publications about the safety area you are concerned about (e.g. fall protection, hazardous materials). If one exists it will probably summarize the agency’s regulations in plain English and give references to the actual regulations.
- Joining a local meet up or safety council as well as attending a safety conference such as national shows hosted by ASSE and NSC are great ways to learn, and connect.
- Ask a safety product sales team member, the knowledge they have is an invaluable resource. They spend hours researching products that apply to your industry and will often provide extensive knowledge because they want your business.
Once you have identified the agency that regulates you and found any publications that explain the regulations, it’s time to start looking through the regulations themselves. First check the section and chapter of the regulation before you start reading. If the regulation is specific to an industry it will say so. For example, fall protection requirements located in the construction standards cannot be applied to general industry.
Finally, many regulations have a “scope and application section.” If the scope and application don’t fit your company or situation, move on.
In order for a roof parapet to provide adequate fall protection, a roof parapet should be at least 42" in height. Unfortunately, many buildings get close to this height without quite meeting the height required by OSHA to provide fall protection. There are several solutions to help you raise the height of your parapet that are cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing.
Here are several solutions if you find yourself in a situation where your parapet does not meet the fall protection height requirement.
1. Raise the Parapet Height with a Railing
This is the simplest solution. If you can penetrate your roof parapet, there are several roof parapet railing solutions. We offer railings that attach to the top of the parapet or the outside of the building. Find our more about these types of railings on our roof parapet railing page.
2. Install a Non-Penetrating Full-Height Railing
If penetrating the outside of the wall is not an option, a freestanding, non-penetrating railing can be used to keep people back to from the roof edge. Find out more about KeeGuard, our non-penetrating roof railing.
3. Use Temporary Parapet Railing Clamps to Build a Railing
If you only require temporary access to a roof with a lower parapet, then parapet clamps are a cost-effective option. The clamps are designed to clamp onto the roof parapet. The railing is then formed by inserting 2x4s between the clamps to form a safe, temporary barrier. Click here to find out more about temporary parapet railing brackets.
Whatever the situation you find yourself in, reach out to our trained sales staff. They can recommend products and help you understand the benefits of the different parapet railing solutions that are available.
When it comes to safety, it may seem like a no-brainer that those who have OSHA to guide them would not become complacent. However, for those who work in the construction or warehousing fields, it does not work like that.
Workers need regular reminders about safety so that accidents do not occur as often. With some simple implementations, the idea of being safe will always be on their minds.
Even Marines Forget About Safety
Combat engineers are an important part of the Marine Corps' operations. A good friend of mine was telling me, though, that back in 2005 when he was in Fallujah, they had a workplace accident.
The platoon was clearing debris into a 7-ton truck and began making a game of launching it from 50 feet away, not knowing that a fellow lance corporal was on the side of the truck. A piece of 2"x4" missed the truck and hit him in the head, cutting him.
It was a needless non-combat injury, further proving the importance of being safe.
How Many Days Since the Last Accident?
One of the best ways to have a regular reminder about safety is to set goals for how many days a team can go without a workplace incident. When certain benchmarks are met, such as a month, 50 days, 100 days, and so on, there should be a celebration. Perhaps the team can get out of work an hour early, get creative!
This needs to be implemented with a visual reminder so that people can see it. When the day is over and it has been without accidents, a team member should be asked to change the number so as to reinforce the good day that was just had.
Recognition goes a long way in the workplace. When a person does something exceptional, whether it is revising a safety program, taking on extra responsibilities, or finding a defect in a piece of machinery, they need to be publicly rewarded. A plaque, a gift card, or even a trophy can accompany this reward.
This inspires safety and lets people on the team know that they are truly valuable. There are few times that people are recognized, and when they save lives, they need to know that the leadership of the team recognizes their contributions.
Incentives for being safe can be a touchy subject, check out this active discussion on LinkedIn.
Encourage Open Communication
Open communication with safety managers and co-workers is essential to create a safety conscious work environment. Employees need to know they can come to management without fear of retribution to report violations of safety procedure.
When workers are encouraged to communicate about safety they begin to take an actionable approach to workplace safety. This keeps safety at the forefront of their minds.
Safety is a big issue on construction sites. The ways in which serious accidents can occur are countless, thanks to the nature of construction. Federal OSHA’s statistics show that of the roughly 4,600 fatal work-related accidents in the U.S. in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, 721 of them occurred on construction sites. This doesn’t even count the thousands of non-fatal accidents that can change an employee’s life forever.
What can safety professionals do to promote construction safety and prevent serious accidents from occurring on their job sites? Certainly having the support of management to have a safety-minded culture and having the proper safety equipment for employees to use are indispensable. Assuming those are already in place, here are some questions that the construction safety professional can ask to constantly improve safety on their job sites.
- What have I done today to make my job site safer?
- Are the employees working here today using the safety equipment that they have been provided?
- Have I talked to any workers in the past two days to learn another thing about safety on this job?
- Has anything changed on the job site since yesterday that introduces a new hazard that wasn’t here yesterday?
- Have I walked the job site today looking for unsafe behavior or equipment?
- Am I willing to take action against employees who continually behave in an unsafe manner in order to keep them and the people working with them safe?
- Have I talked to my boss lately about safety issues on this job site?
- When was the last time I checked the OSHA regulations to make sure there are no new requirements that affect my employer’s job sites?
- Do employees feel that they can come to me about safety concerns so that they don’t “drop a dime” on my employer with OSHA?
- Have I done what I promised others that I would do to take care of potential safety hazards on this job site?
Everyone says that safety is their number one priority on their job sites, but on at least 721 job sites in 2011 something went wrong. Even if employees have their own responsibility for safety on the job, it’s the safety professional’s job to make sure that those words get translated into action.