Why Fall Protection for Roof Hatches is Critical
Let’s get straight to the point, every single roof hatch should have protection included with it.
Think about it. It’s an open hole in the roof that you have to walk near. After all, how else are you going to gain access to and from your roof?
When we evaluate fall risk, the two major factors are severity and frequency. Severity covers how likely a fall is to occur and how serious the damage will be in the event of a fall. Frequency describes how often someone is exposed to that fall.
As you can imagine, roof hatches rank pretty high on the risk scale. They can’t be avoided and are accessed at least twice per occurrence, once for access to the roof and once for leaving the work zone.
With this in mind, it may surprise you that roof hatches are an often-overlooked fall hazard. They are often in the center of the roof and have a cover when not in use.
This doesn’t make them safe. In fact, the false sense of security is what often leads to injury or worse when not protecting your roof hatches.
However, you don’t have to take my word for it.
What does OSHA say about protecting roof hatches?
1910.28(b)(3)(iv)Each employee is protected from falling into a ladderway floor hole or ladderway platform hole by a guardrail system and toeboards erected on all exposed sides, except at the entrance to the hole, where a self-closing gate or an offset must be used.
OSHA says that we should have a guardrail on all exposed sides of our roof hatch. Typically, there are multiple ways that fall safety can be achieved, including with skylight hazards.
Hatches do not afford this comfort. There isn’t an option to use a different type of fall protection, like anchor points. All roof access hatches must use a guardrail for fall protection.
The entrance of your roof hatch must use a self-closing gate or an offset. An offset is guardrail designed in such a way that prevents direct access to the hazard. This helps to ensure that every side of the hatch is protected when it is open.
Some roof hatch guardrail kits leave the backside open where the door is. If someone were to fall against the door, then the hatch would seal and there is no longer a fall hazard. This side would not be exposed.
It doesn’t stop here.
What does IBC say about protecting roof hatches?
1011.13 GuardsEach employee is protected from falling into a ladderway floor hole or ladderway platform hole by a guardrail system and toeboards erected on all exposed sides, except at the entrance to the hole, where a self-closing gate or an offset must be used.
International Building Code is the standard most local building codes adopt. So, if it says it here, then it most likely says it in your local code. However, make sure to double-check as your local requirements may be stricter.
This means that if your roof hatch is close to the roof edge, then both the roof hatch and the nearby edge of the roof should have a guardrail installed.
Not a personal fall arrest or travel restrain system. This code specifies guardrail at both the edge and the hatch.
How to Meet OSHA and IBC Hatch Protection Requirements
The helpful part of these codes is the simplicity of it all. You don’t have to spend hours trying to measure the value of different solutions, wasting time you could spend on other safety-critical concerns. It’s as simple as finding the right railing for you.
OSHA says that the guardrail you use should be 42” in height, with a mid-rail at the halfway point. The top rail needs to be able to withstand a 200 lb. force. There are other considerations to think about when choosing the right guardrail, but...
The other good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. We’re here to help you figure out what type of railing would suit your needs best, from mounted hatch guardrails to non-penetrating roof edge protection.
Give us a call, send us an email, or click the button below to get in touch with us today.
Have questions? Reach out to a Fall Protection Expert today!
We are happy to answer any questions you have about KeeHatch or other railing system.