June 16, 2016
by Lexi Edwards
While building designers and architects play an important role in rooftop safety both during and after installation, contractors have a unique opportunity to contribute to long-term rooftop safety and increase their sales in the process. If you are submitting even a few proposals each week directly to building owners, consider adding a variety of permanent rooftop safety solutions as options in your quote. Here are a few ideas to get started.
Given the frequent need to access rooftop equipment on a regular basis, it is surprising how many roofs have no interior means of access. Frankly, interior roof hatches are much safer than temporary exterior ladders, especially for anyone who is not experienced in the roofing business. Consider offering a hands-free hatch that reduces the potential for falls or other injuries whenever the hatch is opened or closed, and remember that once you have people on the roof, the hatch must be closed or guarded to prevent someone from falling into the opening. Also include an inclined stairwell system with handrails to access the hatch versus the all-too-common unprotected straight ladder to help-ensure safe access to the hatch.
Properly designed and installed roof walkways and anchor point tie-offs not only reduce the potential for falls and other accidents, but they can also significantly reduce traffic damage to the roof surface. As an extra feature of your walkway quote, consider adding crossovers over interior parapets and stairs at roof height changes. Also add ramped and elevated walkways at other roof surface obstructions such as conduit and piping runs.
Skylights always pose a risk for falls, and there are many ways to reduce this risk. For some skylights, you can install an OSHA rated skylight guard into the structural framing of the skylight opening. Of course, the guard must be carefully engineered to provide fall protection, both before and after a skylight is installed. For large skylights or where installing an interior grid is not feasible, exterior metal grates or guardrail systems can be installed. You should research and follow all regulatory guidelines, as well as any applicable state or local building codes, to ensure safety compliance before installing skylight guards or perimeter guard rail systems.
Properly designed snow retention systems, especially when installed near doors and other openings, can make it easier and much safer for occupants to enter and exit the building.
If someone in your office has CAD experience, it shouldn’t take long to print out a detailed roof plan illustrating all of your proposed safety features. It’s usually very easy to obtain brochures and samples that can reinforce the benefits of your safety suggestions to the owner.
Finally, one additional way to make your rooftop safety quote more real for the owner is to install these features on your own metal roof. A good safety hatch with an easy-to-climb interior stairway makes it easy to personally show customers what a high-quality, safe roof looks like. Additionally, a well laid out walkway system makes it easy to show customers many more metal roofing accessories beyond safety devices – such as skylights, solar tubes and many other important rooftop accessories.