Rooftop Safety

Elevated Safety Series: Our Mission & Vision with Vincenzo Cutrone

Across Canada and beyond, rooftop safety is undergoing immense change. Few understand these changes better than Vincenzo Cutrone, Marketing Manager at Skyline Group. In the first of our Elevated Safety Series, we sit down with Vince to discuss Skyline’s guiding mission and vision, and how they align with changing safety needs across North America.

 

Tell us about your story with Skyline Group. What motivated you to specialize in rooftop safety?

“For me, the decision to join the team at Skyline Group was driven by that core principle – that core need – to ensure safety for workers at height. 

“For myself, when I’m doing some DIY work at home, safety is always a concern. For our customers, who are always working at height – that concern is all the more significant. They work in inherently dangerous environments, and all it takes is one fall to change their lives forever. 

“These workers face all of the usual distractions that people like me face – communicating with customers, checking emails, carrying equipment. On top of that, they’re dealing with the potentially lethal challenges of wind, rain and those other hazards that arise from working at height, and that represents a dangerous combination. Falling through an open hatch or falling off an elevated platform can have tragic, real-life consequences, all of which are avoidable.

“Thinking about the impact of rooftop safety incidents on companies, individuals and families makes us ask ourselves how we can be part of the change. It’s all about looking at how we ensure our clients don’t discover safety by accident. The key is in being proactive, and not just reactive. 

“Consider this – many people may suggest that staff at-height should wear safety harnesses at all times. To that, we say that the fall itself shouldn’t have happened in the first place, and that’s really what I and the wider Skyline Group want to get at in the work we do. How do we help the industry? How do we change perspectives around safety compliance, versus being safe? Those are the questions that drove my decision to join the company.”

 

How does Skyline Group’s vision align with the evolving needs of rooftop safety in North America?

“Our vision is to become the North American trusted choice for safe elevated work areas. Our mission coincides with that: to create safe elevated work areas that protect people, companies and brands. So – how does this play into the wider industry?

“Put simply, when we want to specify a solution for an application, we want to base our advice on a foundation of trust, first and foremost. Our customers want to work with a company that can be relied upon for its expertise, its experience and the know-how they need to create solutions that are tailored to their elevated workspace.

Rooftop construction safety foreman with safety vest, helmet, clipboard, and cellphone

“As an example, let’s say that you’re a commercial property owner, and you have a HVAC contractor conducting maintenance on your rooftop. You may not know what the rules and regulations are around that particular environment. Or, you may have been warned by one of your workers about non-compliant aspects of your rooftop, or safety gaps. Of course, you may be simply unaware of these issues as a whole. Regardless of what option applies to you, if there is an injury, you’re at fault. 

“Our mission and vision seek to go beyond that level of understanding. We try to make sure users of our client’s elevated work areas go home safe at the end of the day to their families. 

“On top of that, we’re also seeking to protect our customers and their brand integrity from those hazards. If you’re a big brand in your community, the last thing you need are safety concerns. If you do have an accident, you’ll find it all the more harder to recruit staff. If you’re seen as not prioritizing safety, you risk losing out on talent, and losing out on potential business. In this sense, we aren’t just protecting people – we’re protecting companies and brands.

“It’s all about creating safer elevated work environments, and a lot of that is down to the information we can offer as an industry expert. You can rely on us to understand your roof environment before you. It’s not just a phone call – it extends to pictures, looking at the landscape of your roof, to On-Site Safety Consultations and ideas as to how you can create a safer environment. 

“We’re on a constant journey of improvement in terms of understanding how workers access areas at height, and how they can do it safely. That’s why it is so critical for us to be there, in-person, to understand those challenges better. You just never know what you’re going to encounter.”

 

What are the most significant changes you’ve observed in rooftop safety standards in recent years?

“We’re seeing a lot of technology being applied, and roofs are becoming busier and busier, regardless of their shape or size. Data centers are a great example – these facilities require a lot of cooling, requiring large HVAC installations on the roof. Meanwhile, a lot of green buildings would have solar panels on their rooftop, and that creates new hazards that weren’t present before. 

Two rooftop workers walking on the rooftop of a commercial building

“Wherever this kind of technology is used, you’re restricting access in and around the roof, creating a pathway that might require workers to be closer to the edge. Creating a safe distance here isn’t always possible, so using a guardrail and walkway system, for example, ensures a dedicated pathway around those panels, whilst also providing a means for maintenance teams to access them. Technology means possibilities – but in the world of rooftops, it also means hazards. Codes and regulations just haven’t caught up yet with this new trend.”

 

What Innovations at Skyline are setting new standards in the industry?

Let’s look at the new challenge we just touched upon, in terms of rooftops becoming more crowded with new technology. We’re looking at how we can provide solutions to meet that, using our inventory of solutions to minimize risk. It isn’t just about protecting against a fall – it’s about stopping a worker from ever reaching that point.

On a general level, our modular solutions are becoming solutions of choice for our customers, and it’s not hard to see why. Easier to transport, easier to install, easier to adjust and adapt versus a welded system. Modularity makes it really easy to put systems in place quickly, that aren’t only compliant, but completely safe. 

We look at how we can provide a solution that’s easily and quickly installed, that won’t take days or weeks to install. Months down the line, if you want to change an aspect of your rooftop, our solutions allow our customers to do that. In that sense, we’re constantly moving along with the evolving needs of our customers. Whether you’re installing these systems yourself or using a contractor, you can rest assured that you’ll be making significant labor savings. 

We’re also seeing a greater focus on the materials used, and that has a major impact on how our solutions are transported and installed. For example, a small team generally prefers aluminum to working with than the heavier, harder-to-manage steel alternative. 

 

What recent project has allowed Skyline to drive change in this area?

One example that comes to mind is a large school we worked with in Ontario, in the process of embracing green technologies. They wanted to cover the roof with solar panels, so much so that there wouldn’t be enough space to navigate the roof. 

When looking at the drawings of the rooftop and how the solar panels would be installed and located, we discovered that it would be quite difficult for maintenance crews to navigate across different rooftops. Maintenance teams would have been forced to walk around the edges of the rooftop to access other areas, or to access the solar panels or any HVAC units. 

Right away, we recommended a walkway solution that would ensure safe passage along the edges of the rooftop, with a guardrail system that would protect against slips and falls. 

As individuals, we try to take the path of least resistance, especially when carrying tools, all adding to the risk. By forcing a safe, enclosed pathway, we guarantee a safe passage. 

 

How does Skyline navigate different regulations in Canada and the USA?

We navigate these challenges thanks to our dedicated team of safety specialists that guide us in the decisions we make, and they’re supported by fantastic Project Management and engineering teams with a deep understanding of safety regulations across each province.

Canadian maple leaf on flag with judge gavel on flag

We have a comprehensive resource document that guides us in terms of these differing codes, and helps us understand how these codes may impact any of the rooftops we’re working on, applying those rules to the rooftop itself. For us, understanding the rules is a second nature reflex. What changes is the application itself – all roofs are structured differently. Getting creative in terms of providing solutions to those challenges is what we’re all about. 

If you’re a Building Manager or building owner, contractor or someone who specifies solutions on a roof or an architect, the rules can be quite daunting and difficult to understand. However, we make that easy. To get started, feel free to reach out to me or a member of the team to better understand the rules impacting your elevated workspace. 

 

Discover Skyline – Elevated Work. Elevated Safety.™

Don’t discover safety by accident. Here at Skyline, we’re inviting you to join us on our mission, moving one step closer to changing the narrative on rooftop safety. To get started, browse our full range of safety solutions. Alternatively, reach out to an expert or find out more about our popular Lunch and Learn training programs. 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Roof Access Ladders in Canada

Here in Canada and across the USA, thousands of workers face a significant risk of injury from falls, often from heights of as little as 3 meters. This fact not only demonstrates the prevalence of these accidents, but also underpins the importance of ensuring safe access to elevated workspaces. In the Ultimate Guide to Roof Access Ladders in Canada, we explore the range of solutions currently provided by Skyline Group, examining how they enhance safety standards and meet compliance with provincial and national safety regulations. 

In North America, the figures surrounding falls from height paint a sobering picture. Every year, approximately 14,000 workers suffer injuries as a result of these accidents, with a majority of incidents involving ladders. 

Roof Access Ladders in Canada: Steps to Safety

The cost of these falls is significant. In British Columbia alone in 2019, 1,077 insurance claims for ladder falls were accepted across various industries, with 325 serious injuries and four deaths. These statistics serve as a stark reminder of the avoidable human cost of these incidents. Behind each figure is a life changed and a family deeply affected.

To shift this narrative towards a safer future, it’s crucial for property managers and building owners to understand the range of roof access ladder solutions available and to choose the right system that ensures genuine safety for workers at height.

  1. Fixed Roof Access Ladders: The 7000 Series
    fixed roof access ladder from skyline group

     

    Where safe access to an elevated work area is required, Fixed Roof Access ladders are a bare essential. Engineered to ensure a high level of safety and compliance for accessing rooftops, hatches, roof spaces and maintenance platforms; our access ladders are engineered to ensure a simple and seamless on-site installation, saving on time and costs. 

    Be it for routine maintenance or emergency situations, these ladders offer uncompromising safety and durability. The integration of robust aluminum with meticulously designed grippy rungs embodies Skyline’s mantra of ‘Elevated Work. Elevated Safety’, setting new benchmarks in rooftop access.

    • 7001 Series: Designed for primary access to various levels, this vertical access ladder with handrails is supported by modular components for quick and easy on-site installation. This product comes with a range of optional features, including a removable door to prevent unauthorized use, guardrails, ladder cages, and walkway/platform systems, ensuring comprehensive safety from ground to rooftop.
    • 7002 Series: This unique product has been specially tailored to enhance height safety on rooftops where parapets are present. The series is equipped with a parapet mount and a step-over platform with handrails, addressing the safety needs when the parapet is 7 inches or greater from the roof surface.
    • 7003 Series: This vertical access ladder with lead on handrails lends particular value for roofs with or without parapets. Included with this solution is a short walkway, ensuring users are safely distanced from the roof edge upon exiting the ladder and stepping onto the rooftop.

    Fixed Roof Access Ladders: Benefits & Applications

    • Ground to roof access: For buildings where routine rooftop access is necessary, the 7000 Series provides a safe and reliable route from the ground to the roof. Creating a safe climb, every time.
    • Varying roof levels: In structures with multiple roof levels or complex designs, these ladders offer a seamless solution to navigate the different elevations safely. Its modular capabilities make it easy to design and configure a solution that best meets your rooftop’s needs.
    • Internal mezzanines and platforms: For internal spaces with elevated platforms or mezzanines, the 7000 Series ensures safe and compliant access.
    • Access to canopies: Whether it’s for maintenance or inspection, the ladders provide secure access to canopy structures.
    • Elevated steel structures: In settings where access to elevated steel structures, cranes, or silos is required, the robust and durable design of the 7000 Series ladders comes into play.
    • Customization and scalability: The modular design allows for additional sections to be added as required, ensuring that the ladder system grows with your needs.

  2. Lifeline Roof Access Ladders
    lifeline ladder from skyline group

    Modular and constructed from high-quality aluminum, Skyline’s selection of Lifeline Roof Access Ladders provide the highest levels of safety; both when ascending and descending. 

    The fact is that depending on your application and the provincial regulations you’re subject to, ladder cages may simply not be enough to meet safety requirements. This is why Lifeline Access Ladders include a stainless steel cable, ensuring that personnel are safely secured to the ladder throughout their climb, minimizing the risk of a fall-related injury. Once workers and facility maintenance teams are on the roof safely, they can then easily detach themselves from the ladder.

    Lifeline Roof Access Ladders: Benefits & Applications

    • Industrial and commercial buildings: For structures where height and safety regulations demand robust fall protection and added safety, these ladders provide a secure access solution.
    • Complex roof structures: In buildings with complex roof designs or where multiple levels of access are required, the adjustable and modular nature of these ladders makes them an ideal choice.
    • Maintenance and inspection: For maintenance personnel and inspectors who require regular access to rooftops and elevated structures, the Lifeline Ladders offer a safe and compliant means of ascent and descent.
    • Emergency access: In situations where secure and rapid rooftop access is crucial, the Lifeline Ladders serve as a reliable solution, ensuring safety in critical moments.

     

  3. Ships Access Ladders

    ships access ladder from skyline group

    Manufactured using high-grade structural aluminum, our array of ship access ladders can be used in various applications requiring lightweight and high-strength rooftop access. This is a common safety solution where traffic is more routine, as it is much easier to climb a ships access ladder with tools or equipment in your hands than a fixed access ladder. When compared to a standard step ladder system, the slope of a ships ladder allows for it to be installed in tight spaces with a limited footprint.

    Our array of ships ladders can be used in various applications requiring lightweight and high-strength rooftop access. They can also provide safe access for when a door or window is obstructing the possibility of installing a traditional fixed access ladder. The steps on these ladders are designed with ruggedness in mind, ensuring they can withstand the demands of high-traffic areas. This feature is especially crucial during unfavourable weather conditions, providing a safe and stable platform even when wet or icy. The steps are also thoughtfully designed to allow snow and ice to melt through the grates, ensuring they remain clear and safe for use year-round.

    Ideal for spaces where traditional fixed access ladders are impractical, these systems can be non-penetrating freestanding or penetrating/fixed, and offer a rust-proof and easy-to-assemble solution. When looking to navigate over obstructions like ducts, where a limited footprint is available, review our array of crossover bridge systems.

    Ships Access Ladders: Benefits & Applications

    • Access over obstructions: Ideal for scenarios where traditional ladders cannot be used due to obstructions like doors, windows, or architectural features.
    • Roof hatch access: Provides safe and efficient access to roof hatches, particularly in tight spaces where conventional ladders are impractical.
    • Elevated structures: Suitable for accessing elevated steel structures that require regular maintenance or visits, where secure and robust access is needed.
    • Complex architectural designs: The ability to tailor the ladders to specific measurements makes them perfect for buildings with unique architectural designs, ensuring safety without compromising structural and aesthetic integrity.
    • Maintenance & inspection access: Offers a reliable solution for maintenance personnel and inspectors who require regular, safe access to hard-to-reach areas.
  4. Extension Ladder Stabilizer: The 5020 Series

    The extension ladder stabilizer is a non-penetrating system that can be installed on roofs with or without a parapet and is considered to be both a permanent or temporary solution to gaining safe access to the roof when using a standard extension ladder. 

    Extension Ladder Stablizer: Benefits & Applications

    • Rooftop equipment & fixture access: Provides a safe method to access rooftop installations, HVAC systems, and other equipment requiring routine maintenance or inspection.
    • Temporary access needs: Ideal for scenarios where temporary access to the rooftop is required, offering a solution that is both safe and non-intrusive to the roofing material. While yielding the flexibility of allowing anyone who has access to a contractor extension ladder, access to the rooftop. With the added benefit of the ladder being removed from the building structure when not in use.
    • Diverse roof structures: Suitable for roofs with or without parapets, the stabilizer’s versatile design ensures a secure and reliable ladder setup in a wide range of architectural contexts.
    • Emergency situations: In urgent scenarios where rapid and secure rooftop access is crucial, the stabilizer ensures that extension ladders can be safely and quickly deployed.

Aluminum vs Steel: Deciding on Material 

Deciding on the type of roof access leader you need will lead on to the next consideration: what material is best?

The two choices here are steel and aluminum, and both materials will ensure you meet compliance requirements. However, you can expect some variation in lead times, installation requirements and maintenance needs. To help you narrow your choices, our Comparison Guide on these two materials contains all the information you need. 

Getting Started

As a building manager or owner, the responsibility of ensuring the safety of those who work at heights rests on your shoulders. Navigating through the maze of safety regulations and finding the perfect roof access solution can be daunting. But with Skyline Group, you are not alone in this journey. Check out the section below for guidance on how to get started.

Ensure Safe Roof Access with Skyline Group

Here at Skyline Group, our expertise is not just in crafting superior safety solutions, but also in understanding the unique needs of your rooftop. To enhance your levels of safety, get started by browsing our products. Alternatively, contact us for an expert consultation. 

Guide to Canadian Rooftop Safety

In the realm of business, we often talk about stakeholders, partners and compliance standards. But behind these words are people – real individuals who depend on your buildings, from maintenance teams and contractors to partners who entrust their well-being to your structures.

Your responsibility extends far beyond mere compliance with regulations; it is a moral obligation to protect the lives of those who inhabit and visit your properties. It’s not just about safeguarding your liability or preserving your brand; it’s about ethics. It’s about acknowledging that every person has the right to a safe work environment. It’s about ensuring that accidents, injuries – and even near misses – are never part of the equation.

  • Understanding your obligations
  • The hierarchy of control
  • Assessing the risk
  • Addressing the hazards
  • How we can help

Skyline Group: Changing the Narrative on Rooftop Safety

Words like stakeholders, partners and compliance standards are often thrown around, but it’s crucial to remember that these terms represent, real individuals who rely on your buildings. As roof safety accident statistics continue to rise in Canada, we’re inviting building managers, architects and property managers to join us in changing the trend.

Property managers in Canada operate within a strict regulatory framework, particularly the Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), which prioritizes safety for all individuals accessing rooftops. These regulations aim to mitigate risks and prevent accidents, serving as a comprehensive framework to safeguard lives. Despite this, figures for height-related accidents and injuries continue to rise year-on-year.

These statistics are more than just data points; they are reminders of the human cost of preventable accidents. Preventable injuries can change lives, and the responsibility to prevent them extends beyond compliance.

Skyline Group: A Controlled Approach to Rooftop Safety

At the core of our safety approach is the Hierarchy of Controls, a systematic method to mitigate risks, with prevention as the key focus. We categorize control measures into five levels:

  • Elimination: The most effective method, where the hazard is eliminated entirely.
  • Substitution: When elimination isn’t possible, hazards are replaced with safer alternatives.
  • Engineering Controls: Physical changes to the rooftop environment to reduce risks.
  • Administrative Controls: Focuses on changing work practices and procedures.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): The last line of defense that complements other controls.

Our mission is to empower property managers to eliminate, substitute, engineer, and establish administrative controls while ensuring the right guidance on PPE specification. We offer onsite safety consultations to help property managers discover, define and deliver rooftop safety solutions tailored to their unique needs.

Changing the Safety Narrative: How We Can Help

At Skyline, our commitment to rooftop safety goes beyond providing off-the-shelf solutions. We design and build height safety solutions tailored for professionals, by professionals. Our streamlined methodology empowers property managers and facility maintenance teams to customize safety solutions that precisely meet the unique needs of their rooftops.

Step #1: Discover

In this crucial initial step, we emphasize the principle that you don’t know what you don’t know. Our team of safety experts stands ready to offer their support, guidance, and extensive experience in understanding the layout of your rooftop and the existing processes for accessing it. Whether through detailed site surveys, comprehensive safety audits, informative lunch and learn sessions, or hands-on safety training, our objective is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the various means of accessing and working on your rooftop. This step includes:

  • Onsite Safety Consultation: We meticulously assess your rooftop to identify potential hazards and areas of concern.
  • Lunch & Learn: We offer informative sessions to educate your team on best practices for rooftop safety.
  • Safety training: We provide hands-on safety training to ensure that your staff is well-prepared to navigate rooftop risks.

Step #2: Design

Building on our discoveries, we move on to the crucial process of defining the safety parameters of your rooftop. Based on our findings, we identify trip and fall hazards on your rooftop. If your roof is undergoing construction or renovation, we also consider the future layout to ensure that employees are protected from trip or fall hazards. This step includes:

  • Development of a safety program: We work on creating a comprehensive safety program that addresses the specific hazards and requirements of your rooftop.
  • Design of the future state: Our team designs a rooftop access and working environment that prioritizes safety and efficiency.
  • Engineered drawings: We provide engineered drawings, ensuring that our solutions adhere to safety standards.
  • Budget approval: We review and approve budgets, ensuring that the safety solutions are cost-effective and meet your financial constraints.

Step #3: Deliver

Execution is key to turning plans into reality. Our dedicated project management team is available around the clock to guide and manage the project as needed, ensuring a seamless installation process. We prioritize safety throughout the installation, and we even request pictures of the final installation for approval by our engineering team. Our aim is to guarantee that areas of concern on your rooftop are not only compliant with local guidelines but also undeniably safe. This step includes:

  • Comprehensive project management: Our project management experts can lead all parties involved in the project, ensuring efficient and effective execution.
  • Logistics coordination: We confirm shipping and on-site requirements to streamline the installation process.
  • Review and approval: We can schedule the review and approval of the installation to ensure that it aligns with our commitment to safety and exceeds your expectations.

Navigate Complex Regulations with Skyline

One of the most intricate challenges property managers and facility maintenance teams face in Canada is navigating the complex landscape of safety regulations. Each province and territory may have its unique requirements and standards, making it imperative to maintain a cohesive safety strategy that complies with regional regulations. At Skyline, we understand the complexities involved in complying with these regulations and provide invaluable assistance in ensuring your rooftop safety.

Here’s how Skyline Group helps you navigate these challenges effectively:

  • Compliance consultation: Our team offers comprehensive compliance consultation services. We help you decipher the regulations relevant to your location and industry, ensuring that your safety strategy aligns seamlessly with the current standards. With our expertise, you can navigate the intricacies of regional regulations confidently.
  • Continuous updates: Our commitment to staying informed means you’ll receive timely updates on regulatory changes. We keep you well-informed about any modifications that may affect your height safety strategy, so you’re always in compliance. This proactive approach helps you stay ahead of the curve and minimizes the risk of non-compliance.
  • Customized solutions: At Skyline, we understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to rooftop safety. We tailor our safety solutions to your unique situation, ensuring they not only meet but also exceed provincial safety requirements. Our customized approach ensures that you remain compliant while providing the highest level of safety for your rooftop workers and visitors.

Stand Up for Safety with Skyline Group

Here at Skyline, we’re reminding building managers not to discover safety by accident. To get started, contact us to book your Onsite Safety Consultation. Alternatively, browse our full range of safety solutions.

Fall Prevention Month: Changing the Narrative on Rooftop Safety

November marks Fall Prevention Month in Canada: an annual reminder that the safety of workers at height is a shared responsibility. Preventable falls remain a sobering reality, with rooftop environments presenting their own unique set of challenges. As Skyline Group delves into a month dedicated to fall prevention, we explore how building managers can combine awareness and action to transform the current narrative surrounding rooftop falls.

This important month reminds us that falls are not just accidents; they are a global concern that can lead to devastating outcomes. Some recent statistics highlight the importance in creating preventative strategies for hazards that can lead to a fall from heights:

Each fall is not just a statistic; it represents an individual whose life has been profoundly affected, along with their families. However, while these figures may seem daunting, the encouraging fact is that the vast majority of falls are preventable.

Changing the Narrative Through Awareness & Action

Whilst we all face a shared responsibility to maintain health and safety, building managers hold a pivotal role in preventing rooftop falls. One of the most effective tools in the fight against falls is the Hierarchy of Controls, highlighted in the infographic below.

 

At its core, the Hierarchy of Controls is a systematic approach to risk mitigation, emphasizing prevention as the cornerstone of safety. It categorizes control measures into five distinct levels, each building upon the other to create a comprehensive safety net.

In the fight against rooftop falls, real change can be achieved by integrating an understanding of this hierarchy with the implementation of a robust safety infrastructure. As you review each element of the safety hierarchy, take the time to think on how this methodology can be applied to your rooftop environment.

Hierarchy of Controls Explained

1. Elimination

At the highest level of the hierarchy of controls lies “Elimination.” This is the most comprehensive and effective approach to mitigating hazards in the workplace. In essence, elimination involves removing the hazard entirely, thereby removing the associated risks.

The principle of elimination aligns with the fundamental concept that the safest way to deal with a hazard is to make sure it no longer exists. In an ideal scenario, elimination results in a workplace where the hazard is no longer present, and consequently, no risk of harm remains.

While elimination is the most effective control measure, it’s also the most challenging to achieve. It often necessitates a fundamental rethinking of processes, systems and infrastructure. However, when successfully implemented, it offers unparalleled levels of safety and protection for workers.

While elimination is the most effective control measure, it may not always be achievable in every situation. In such cases, organizations must move down the hierarchy to consider other control measures like substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment. Nevertheless, the pursuit of elimination should always be at the forefront of safety planning, as it represents the gold standard in risk reduction.

2. Substitution

Substitution is the next level in the hierarchy of controls when elimination is not feasible. It involves replacing a hazardous material, equipment, or process with a less hazardous alternative. The essence of substitution is to swap out the hazard for something safer, thereby reducing the risk to workers.

The process of substitution begins with a thorough assessment of the hazard, its associated risks, and the potential alternatives. It is crucial to ensure that the replacement is genuinely less hazardous and does not introduce new risks or hazards that may be equally or more harmful. Careful consideration must be given to assessing the comparative risk levels between the existing hazard and the proposed substitute.

Substitution can significantly enhance workplace safety by reducing the inherent risks associated with a particular task or process. However, it’s important to recognize that substitution may not always be straightforward, and careful consideration is required to ensure that the alternative is genuinely safer. When done correctly, substitution is an effective means of risk reduction, promoting a safer and healthier work environment for employees.

3. Engineering Controls

When elimination or substitution are not viable, engineering controls come into play. These can be physical changes to the rooftop environment that reduce the risk. They can also be process-driven. The safety solutions designed and installed on the rooftop separate the roof worker from nearby fall hazards. The solution is applied to the site of the hazard before the hazard comes into contact with the roof worker. By controlling the exposure of the hazard you are able to lessen its impact. Examples of engineering controls from a product based solution is the inclusion of roof guardrails, dedicated walkways, work platforms or non-slip surfaces to mitigate the potential fall hazard. The guardrail will not remove the fall hazard as you are still working on the rooftop, but it will create a fixed barrier between you and the hazard, ultimately separating you from it. Keep in mind that an important element of an engineered control system is that it does not rely on the worker to be trained like you would in order to use a fall protection lanyard.

  • Skyline recommends: Guardrails/Barriers and Access Ladders are the two most common inquiries. Designed to be robust and reliable, our guardrails and barriers create a formidable protective barrier, ensuring that rooftop perimeters and openings are safeguarded against falls. Meanwhile, our access ladders provide secure vertical access, a crucial engineering control in preventing falls during ascent and descent. Coupling these solutions with walkway and crossover systems/platforms, building owners can create safe passage while walking and working around the rooftop.

4. Administrative Controls

Beyond physical modifications, administrative controls focus on changing work practices and procedures. This might involve scheduling rooftop work during favorable weather conditions, implementing comprehensive training programs, and establishing clear protocols for rooftop access.

  • Skyline recommends: Hazard Reviews are a great means of understanding your roof layout. Our expert assessments and audits offer building managers valuable insights and recommendations. This service supports the development of effective administrative controls and policies to enhance rooftop safety. Aside from helping building managers create a comprehensive safety plan, our experts will assist in devising various procedures and policies on working safely on worktops or at heights. This not only enhances your administrative controls – it fosters a culture of safety throughout your organization. In our experience administrative controls should always be considered, even when engineering controls are in place it is never a bad idea to understand if improvements can be made to your work processes and procedures while on the rooftop.

5. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE represents the last line of defence in the hierarchy, providing an extra layer of safety and a strong preventative measure against injury. It includes safety gear like harnesses, helmets, and safety glasses. While vital, PPE should not be the first or sole method of protection; it should complement other controls. For instance, in a scenario where a worker is maintaining a HVAC system near a roof edge that has a guardrail, the guardrail represents an engineered solution. However, PPE solutions such as gloves, helmets, high-vis vests and fall arrest systems (lanyards) can be combined with the guardrail to enhance the safety at the core of your rooftop operations. If we focus our attention to lanyards and fall arrest solutions, PPE is at the bottom of the hierarchy because it is only in use when a fall occurs. Nobody wants to test out their PPE, a roof worker would prefer not to fall at all, which is why it can be viewed as complementary.

  • Skyline recommends: PPE solutions need to be carefully reviewed, while taking into consideration the requirements of your work environment and the workers that use them. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to PPE. Instead, it is crucial to work with your safety partner to identify opportunities where the addition of PPE can complement other safety controls. Whether through our Annual Inspection Service or our Lunch and Learn Training Program, Skyline’s experts are on-hand to review your rooftop environment, and recommend where PPE would be a vital solution.

Applying the Hierarchy of Controls on Your Rooftop

You might be asking yourself, “how can I use the hierarchy of controls in my application”? We recommend starting with identifying those hazards present on your rooftop. Once defined you want to spend time with your team and those that work on the rooftop, brainstorming how you can block the path between the worker and the hazard. One hierarchy at a time starting with elimination, you want to create a list of actions that should be taken to solve the hazard. Ideally, you want to list out all of the hazards and actions you could take within each hierarchy. When doing this activity, ask the team involved:

  • What are the benefits and disadvantages of each action within each hierarchy level?
  • Are the controls you are looking to set out even feasible? For example, substituting a chemical for a safer option may not be an option as it will alter the final product you are producing.
  • This is one that is often missed, but will this action create new unforeseen hazards? We don’t want to solve one hazard by creating a new one.

This process does take time, and you may require a quicker solution. If it will take time to implement one or many of the actions, use one or more of the lower hierarchy options to get started. For example, you may use PPE equipment while waiting for delivery and installation of the ‘engineered controls’ safety solution in order to urgently create a safer environment.

 

This Fall Prevention Month, Drive Positive Change

Looking for a worksheet to start from when applying the hierarchy of controls? Download our one-page template here to get started.

Safety is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and at Skyline Group, we provide tailored solutions to address the unique challenges of each rooftop environment. To start playing your own role in changing the narrative of rooftop safety, contact us for a complimentary consultation or browse our full range of safety solutions.

Safeguarding Against Slippery Surfaces in Fall: Skyline Safety Advice

With the fall season bringing an increased falling of leaves, heavier rainfall and higher levels of dew, property managers face a distinct rooftop safety challenge that often goes unnoticed – slippery surfaces. In the latest learning resource from Skyline Group, we explore how building operators can take steps to protect workers at height throughout this season.

The arrival of fall ushers in a unique set of environmental factors that can turn even the most well-maintained rooftops into treacherous terrain for workers at height. For property managers, the responsibility to protect these workers extends far beyond mere compliance with safety regulations. It’s a moral obligation and a commitment to safeguard the lives of those who inhabit and visit their properties.

 

A Season of Change, a Season of Risk

It is an unfortunate fact that slippery surfaces are a major occupational hazard for workers at height. It is also a fact that these are some of the most common and preventable causes of workplace accidents. In Ontario alone, each year more than 20% of lost time injuries to City employees are due to slips, trips and falls. Indeed, while injuries keep occuring, the figures keep rising.

With rooftop workers and other workers at height continuing to face a disproportionate level of risk during fall, how can property managers and building operators take real, meaningful steps to drive positive change? Let’s take a closer look…

 

Understanding how Roof Slope & Material can Increase Injury

One of the key factors in addressing slippery surfaces during the fall season is understanding the roof’s slope and material. A flat roof may accumulate more leaves and moisture, creating an increased risk of slips and falls. In contrast, a sloped roof might shed leaves more efficiently but presents its own set of challenges, especially near the edges.

Whilst there are several steps property managers can take to mitigate these risks, we’ve identified some of the essentials:

  • Drainage systems: Property managers can consider the installation of proper drainage systems to prevent water from pooling and leaves from accumulating.
  • Material choice: Employing slip-resistant roofing materials, which offer enhanced grip even in wet conditions, is a wise choice. The surface your workers walk on should be viewed as a first-line of defence and warrants some genuine consideration.
  • Slope protection: Understanding the slope of the roof is critical when designing safe access pathways and guardrail systems. Skyline Group offers a range of guardrails and barriers that can be customized to fit various roof configurations, ensuring safety while navigating slopes and edges.

 

The Significance of Roof Elevation

Rooftops often feature diverse elevations, creating potential tripping hazards and unstable surfaces. This risk is, of course, increased due to the seasonal risks brought about by fall, including fallen leaves, rain and dew. This is especially true when workers need to access different areas frequently or in locations with high foot traffic.

Here at Skyline Group, it is our view that safe pathways, guardrails, and proper signage become essential in such scenarios. Property managers can utilize walkways, crossover bridges and platforms to establish secure routes for workers. These pathways are designed to offer stability and traction, even during harsh weather.

By strategically placing these safety features, property managers can help workers navigate complex roof layouts with ease, reducing the risk of accidents caused by uneven surfaces or unexpected elevation changes.

 

Create a Culture of Safety

Beyond equipment and techniques, fostering a culture of safety is essential, particularly in the fall season. Below are some steps property managers can take to build a culture of safety:

  • Open communication: Property managers should encourage open communication about safety concerns and near misses. Regular safety training and reminders can reinforce safe climbing practices among workers.
  • Climbing techniques: Workers should be trained in safe climbing techniques, emphasizing the importance of maintaining three points of contact at all times. This means having two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand, in contact with the ladder or roof surface. Climbing should be deliberate and controlled, avoiding sudden movements or overreaching.
  • Training and certification: Ensure that workers are adequately trained and certified in ladder safety and rooftop access. Training programs should cover ladder usage, fall protection, hazard identification and emergency procedures.

 

Invest in Safety Infrastructure

Investing in the right safety infrastructure is crucial for addressing slippery surfaces in the fall season. Whilst provincial legislation varies in regards to stating what infrastructure is essential, we recommend guardrails and barriers thanks to their ability to create a protective perimeter. These installations are particularly effective in preventing accidental slips and falls near the roof’s edge, particularly when leaves and rain create hazardous conditions.

Properly designed guardrails are self-ballasted or anchored securely to the rooftop, ensuring stability and durability. Additionally, using brightly colored or reflective signage enhances visibility and reduces the likelihood of accidents.

Aside from guardrails and barriers, access ladders can play a significant role in addressing the slippery surfaces of fall. Access ladder rungs should feature anti-slip surfaces. These rungs are designed to provide workers with enhanced grip, even in wet or slippery conditions caused by fall foliage or rain. Additionally, safety cages can act as a protective barrier, preventing accidental falls and ensuring that workers maintain three points of contact during ascent or descent. At Skyline we like the use of lifeline ladders as they restrict you from falling, versus the barrier a caged ladder provides.

What safety features your rooftop needs depends on its layout and the range of operations that will be conducted. That’s where Skyline’s Rooftop Hazard Review Program comes in.

 

Conduct a Safety Review Analysis

Fall may bring added safety hazards, but it also presents opportunities. This season typically marks the off-peak period for most commercial buildings, making it the perfect time to conduct a comprehensive safety review. With Skyline Group as your partner, property managers can transform the challenges of fall into an opportunity to fortify their rooftop safety measures.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect when partnering with us:

  • On-site hazard assessment: Before our roof safety specialist arrives on-site, they will conduct a thorough review of your specific hazard requirements to ensure a streamlined assessment process. The duration of this assessment varies depending on the size and layout of your roof but typically spans from a few hours to half a day.
  • Hazard review report: This comprehensive report will include a detailed list of identified fall hazards, an overview of relevant regulations and standards that may be impacted, and expert recommendations for implementing safety solutions. To complement these insights, we provide a visual reference with photographs capturing various areas on your roof.
  • Safety and compliance made simple: The hazard review report isn’t just a document; it’s your essential guide to minimizing the risk of injuries on your rooftop. It outlines recommended actions for mitigating identified hazards, facilitating compliance with both federal and provincial safety regulations. Additionally, it serves as a valuable record for your yearly inspections, ensuring that your rooftop consistently adheres to the highest safety standards.
 

Stand Up for Workers at Height This Fall with Skyline Group

The arrival of fall should serve as a reminder to property managers that protecting against slippery surfaces is a safety essential. By proactively addressing these challenges and leveraging the expertise of Skyline Group, property managers can uphold their commitment to safety. Get started to creating a safer tomorrow, today! Contact us.

Best Practices in Designing & Building Tomorrow’s Sustainable Rooftops

Rooftop designs are evolving at a rapid rate; not only are we seeing unique designs, but we are also seeing rooftops embrace green and solar technology to achieve their sustainability goals.

In addition to looking great, sustainable roofs can offer many benefits. They can manage the impacts of high volumes of rain, reduce energy costs and dependency, and ultimately make for a more sustainable future. But implementing a green roof is not as easy as setting up a garden bed on your roof, there’s a lot to think about: design, structure, irrigation, and optimization. We partnered with ZinCo Canada Inc. to help demystify sustainable rooftop solutions and help you decide if it’s right for your project. Or perhaps, you’re ready to improve an already-existing structure and wondering where to begin.

  • Benefits of a sustainable and/or green rooftop
  • How to go about auditing your roof when looking to go green
  • Tips when selecting and installing a sustainable solution
  • Understanding maintenance requirements & warranties
  • Being sustainable requires a safe rooftop

Restricting Unauthorized Access to Your Rooftop

Bottom view of compliant external access ladder

Why Restrict Unauthorized Roof Access?


Whether you want to prevent vandalism or ensure contractors’ safety, finding ways to prevent unauthorized access and reduce fall risks on your rooftop is essential. For some, climbing onto roofs can seem attractive and exciting. The intent is never to get hurt, but fatal accidents can occur while causing mischief or trying to break into a building. Sometimes it can be as simple as a young adult trying to retrieve a football from the school rooftop. With many rooftops missing the required safety solutions, mixed with the individual on the rooftop needing more training on how to utilize the available fall protection, the results can be fatal. During the winter months, hazards like skylights are challenging to see, even for those who work on rooftops 24/7, making unauthorized access a challenge that needs to be solved.

If someone experiences an injury on your rooftop, even if they access it without your permission, there’s a chance that you could still be liable. In Canada, the Westray Law (Bill C-45) makes the owner of the building criminally liable for injuries that occur on their rooftop. This liability is drastically mitigated when the appropriate rooftop safety solutions are in place.

I Can Simply Cut My Ladder Shorter, Right? Wrong!


Yes, you read that correctly! As we conduct in-person rooftop audits and work with partners across North America, many fixed access ladders are missing the first 5 – 12 feet of their ladder. You might be wondering why… The reason for doing so is to create a safer environment that restricts unwanted access to the roof. The thought process is as follows, if the ladder is too high to reach, then a step or extension ladder will be required, making it challenging for the general public to access the roof.
In principle, it sounds like a great idea, assuming that those that have easy access to a ladder are authorized to be on the roof. The challenge is that cutting the access ladder creates a new hazard that never existed in the first place. Let me explain, by cutting the ladder you are;

  • Cutting a ladder that the manufacturer built to meet your local safety guidelines, making that ladder non-compliant, as the product was altered after being tested and/or stamped.

  • Requiring your staff or service personnel to utilize a step ladder or extension ladder to climb onto the roof access ladder is creating a hazard in itself. Depending on how the ladder is cut there could be a lifeline that can only be used at 12 feet, making it difficult to tie your harness to. Some roof ladders also have a cage, so climbing into the caged ladder from the step ladder you are on poses its own unique hazard.

  • Also, when using a step ladder, it is not safe or allowed to step on the last step. Depending on your ladder length this may be required to climb onto the access ladder.

  • You will not always have three points of contact while climbing. This causes a major concern and increases the risk of a fall.

  • How about when you are now trying to descend from the ladder? If you are descending from a lifeline ladder you will be required to tie off from the lifeline while still being 12 feet from the ground, which is still considered to be a dangerous height across Canada.

  • Being able to descend from the roof also assumes that the step ladder on the ground hasn’t been removed. Being stuck on the roof waiting for someone to open the hatch door is not how service personnel want to spend their day.

  • Is not in compliance with fixed access ladder installation guidelines, as most codes require the bottom rung of a ladder to be around 300 mm (1 foot) off the ground.

As you can see from the above points, cutting your building’s outdoor access ladder 5 – 12 feet from the ground will create many more hazards than it solves. And the alternative, more compliant solution, is much easier and cost-effective to implement.

How Do I Restrict Unwanted Roof Access?


The answer is much simpler than one would think. When purchasing a fixed access ladder from Skyline Group you have the option to have a lockable door that easily integrates into your ladder system. This restricts unwanted access, as anyone who requires access to the roof would require approval or the key from the facility maintenance team or building owner. The installation is simple, as doors are fixed directly to the existing ladder frame, eliminating access to the first 6 – 8 rungs depending on the unit’s installation. If you have a cage on your ladder, a lockable security door attaches to the cage’s body. This restricts access to the inner section of the cage on the ladder. Cameras are also increasing in popularity, with video surveillance being an easy and proactive means to protect your roof from unauthorized access.

Your Rooftop Safety Partner

At Skyline Group we pride ourselves in being leaders in rooftop safety, making roof access and compliance easy. If you are faced with a rooftop hazard, such as a ladder that looks like the ones above, call our team of safety experts to learn about our array of aluminum access ladders and various other rooftop safety solutions.

Roof Hatch Safety – Walmart Reviews Rooftops Across Canada

The Challenge

If a roof hatch is left open while service/maintenance is being conducted, it creates an unprotected opening. Creating a fall hazard.

The Solution

Generally, a fall greater than 3 meters where the hazard cannot be eliminated requires some form of fall protection, like a guardrail to protect workers from a fall hazard.

Walmart is one of Canada’s largest employers. And it is continually growing, by adding more services, including online shopping at Walmart.ca, home delivery, and pickup at stores, with many more locations on the horizon. Every day, the company works with more than 2,100 Canadian suppliers. Safety for customers, staff, and third-party vendors is paramount. This safety-driven culture led Walmart to schedule a site visit with a roofing consultant to better understand how to create a safer working environment on their rooftops.

Roof Hatch Safety: The Fall Hazard

Hatches for industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) buildings can pose a fall hazard because they provide access to the roof, most likely greater than 3 meters from the ground. An unexpected fall to the ground from the rooftop can be life-threatening. If the hatch is left open while service/maintenance is being conducted, it creates an unprotected opening. Thus, a fall through the hatch from the rooftop can be just as dangerous as a fall from the roof’s edge, as the floor below the hatch opening can be quite far from the rooftop. When navigating the rooftop, workers may be distracted and not realize that the roof hatch behind them has been left open. This proves true when working on a large project where multiple people are visiting or working on the roof.

Furthermore, the area around the hatch may not be adequately marked or protected, which can increase the risk of someone accidentally stepping into the opening or losing their balance while working near the hatch opening. This risk is particularly heightened when workers must access the roof frequently or in areas with high foot traffic as the chances of a hatch door being left open are higher.

It’s important to note that the Ontario Building Code – Industrial Establishments requires employers to provide fall protection for workers working at heights of 3 meters (approximately 10 feet) above a lower level. This can include using guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems, or other appropriate measures to prevent falls. So, how tall is your fixed hatch ladder? And do you have a safety solution to prevent a fall-related injury?

Roof Hatch Safety: Minimizing The Risk of a Fall Near a Roof Hatch

Generally, a fall greater than 3 meters where the hazard cannot be eliminated requires some form of fall protection, like a guardrail to protect the worker from danger. In addition, to minimize the risk of a misstep and a potential fall through the roof hatch, it is essential to:

  1. Review and assess where the hatch is installed on the roof. Surprisingly, hatches are often installed on an exterior wall, making the climb out of the hatch onto the roof hazardous as you may be near the roof’s edge.
  2. Ensure the hatch is installed correctly.
  3. Review the hatch’s ability to close and open easily.
  4. Verify that the hatch and connected ladder has remained intact and secured to the roof/wall.
  5. Additionally, facility maintenance teams and 3rd party workers should be trained to identify hazards associated with rooftop hatches and instructed on how to go about using the appropriate fall protection solutions.

Roof Hatch Safety: Barrier Solution Provides a Safe & Compliant Rooftop

With the help of a local roofing consultant, Walmart selected and specified the Skyline 5004 HatchBarrier solution with the addition of hatch grab bars. The galvanized steel hatch guardrail system provides a safe perimeter when roof workers and maintenance staff are on the roof with the hatch door open. The addition of hatch grab bars added an extra layer of safety, ensuring three points of contact when climbing the hatch ladder and stepping onto the roof. From an installation standpoint, everything about Skyline Group’s hatch barrier solution provided a quick and easy installation. In addition, its modular design allowed for easy and fast transport to the roof while making it possible to fasten the barrier to any roof hatch size.

On this rooftop, due to the hatch opening being placed near the roof’s edge, both Walmart and the consultant wanted to minimize concerns of a fall occurring due to a misstep while exiting the hatch onto the rooftop. As a result, the team also installed a non-penetrating safety rail of 10 feet in length, creating a protective barrier between the hatch and the rooftop’s edge. This would ensure that year-round, the proximity of the hatch to the edge of the rooftop would not pose any danger. With the safety rail being non-penetrating, the installation was quick and easy, with no repairs required to the roof membrane, as the safety rail was stabilized with weighted base plates.

Public School Creates a Safe Roof Environment Meeting Ontario TSSA Safety Requirements

The Challenge

TSSA gas technician to raise a concern that the units were located on a sloped surface that would make it difficult to ensure a safe working environment.

The Solution

The rooftop safety solution consisted of a walkway with guardrail and platform system starting at the roof hatch, up the slope of the building, down the roof to three RTUs (HVAC systems).

Huron Centennial Public School

The Avon Maitland District School Board is a full-service, public, English school district in southwestern Ontario, bordering Lake Huron and covering some of the most productive agricultural lands in Canada. It covers the counties of Huron and Perth, with over 160,000 people calling the Avon Maitland District their home. Huron Centennial Public School is one of the schools in this district and is located on 30-plus acres of property in rural Ontario. It is a kind, caring, and compassionate school community with a dedicated, supportive, and professional staff. Their unique natural setting allows students many opportunities to extend their learning outdoors. They have grown to 16 classrooms, including three full-day learning classrooms with teacher/early childhood educator teams.

A Visit from the Ontario TSSA

With the interior of the building undergoing renovations, there was a requirement to update the rooftop units (RTUs). This update to the rooftop units yielded a TSSA gas technician to raise a concern that the units were located on a sloped surface that would make it difficult to ensure a safe working environment. TSSA then notified the consultant that a leveled walkway system to the rooftop units, including handrails and guardrails as well as steps to traverse the slope, would suffice in creating safe access to the RTUs, while creating a compliant working environment.
  • That a permanent guardrail solution will be designed, built, and installed to meet the requirements of section 14 of Ontario Regulation 851 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  • The method of securing the guardrail assembly to the building.
  • The design details of the guardrail layout.
  • The drawings are also required to show:
    • A plan/view of the roof.
    • The location of the appliances, appliance panels, new guardrails, or barriers on the roof.
    • That the distance from any open end of the guardrail to the gas-fired HVAC system will be a minimum of 6 feet from the roof’s edge, and that the service clearances are maintained year-round with safe passage.
With the commercial rooftop having a steep slope with no standing seam, Huron Centennial was looking for a team of height safety experts to review their rooftop and conduct a rooftop safety audit, providing a safety solution that surpasses TSSA’s safety requirements.

Solution: Customized Rooftop Guardrail & Walkway System

After discussing the project with their current safety supplier and the potential solution with TSSA, Huron Centennial started searching for a safety partner that would have the design specifications and safety experience to meet their needs. The facility maintenance team at Huron Centennial selected our design and modular solution based on the following;
  • Skyline Group’s extensive experience with meeting and surpassing TSSA’s safety requirements.
  • Quick turnaround on providing a solution that includes engineered stamped drawings, in order to schedule maintenance ASAP with TSSA.
  • Modular solution, making customizing the guardrail and walkway system to meet their needs easy, with no increased lead times.
  • All products, and any customization, is available locally in Perth Ontario. Ensuring a quick turnaround from order to delivery.
  • While the system’s modular design made this custom solution possible, it also drastically reduced the installation time and labor costs. Reducing the required budget for this project.
  • With the solution being manufactured in lightweight aluminum, transporting the material to the roof was quick and easy.
  • Finally, our experience and reputation working with various Canadian school boards made us the preferred vendor.
The rooftop safety solution consisted of a walkway with guardrail and platform system starting at the roof hatch, up the slope of the building, down the roof to three RTUs (HVAC systems). This custom solution created a safe year-round path to and from the rooftop units, with the platforms also providing a safe working environment, away from any potential fall hazard.
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