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Keeping Maintenance Team Safe on A Sloped Commercial Roof

Keeping Maintenance Team Safe on A Sloped Commercial Roof

Thunderbay Retail Centre

595 West Arthur Street is in Thunder Bay’s central highway commercial neighbourhood on the northeast corner of the signalized intersection of West Arthur Street and Mountdale Avenue. This multi-tenant, L-Shaped retail strip centre is surrounded by national retailers, International Airport, several hotels, a growing residential base and the busiest commercial corridor in Thunder Bay.


The commercial site covers 96,500 square feet and features approximately 250 feet of frontage. The building was built in 1993, consisting of a multi-tenant building with a small two-storey section.

Sloped Commercial Roof

The rooftop units (RTUs) were built close to the roof edge of a sloped commercial rooftop. Not only was the degree of the slope making it very difficult for the maintenance crew to have a safe passage to the HVAC units, but a safe environment to conduct maintenance wasn’t possible. A local contractor invited our team of walkway and guardrail specialists to help create a compliant and safe roof environment.

Rooftop Safety

Roof Walkway Creates A Safe Pathway

The local general contractor working on the mall, and the building owner, selected Skyline Group’s walkway and roof barrier solutions for the following reasons.

  • Skyline Group’s consulting expertise and experience in making rooftop access and compliance easy.
  • Build quality along with engineered stamped drawings.
    During a time when supply challenges are of great concern, we had the stock to deliver a quick and easy turnaround.
  • Custom capabilities to ensure a safe environment for maintenance staff.
    The unit’s modularity drastically reduced installation costs, making it a quick and easy installation. This also made it possible to grow the system over time as the rooftop gets busier with future RTUs.
  • The walkway and guardrail systems are manufactured in aluminum, facilitating transportation to the roof and the installation process. The lightweight solution also made meeting roof load bearing requirements a breeze.
  • The perforated walkway made it safe for rooftop access during the winter months.

Telecommunications Facility Upgrades Capacity Creating a Crowded Rooftop

Telecommunications Facility Upgrades Capacity Creating a Crowded Rooftop

Roger's Toronto Switch Facility

The founder of Rogers, Ted Rogers, purchased his first radio station, CHFI, in 1960. They have grown over the years to becoming a leading technology and media company that strives to provide the very best in wireless, residential, sports, and media. With a highly skilled and diversified workforce of approximately 25,300 employees, Rogers makes more possible every day, proudly connecting their customers to a world of possibilities and the moments that matter most in their lives.

Upgraded Cooling System

Rogers was planning to upgrade to their existing Wireline Switch facility in Toronto. With the facility upgrade requiring various rooftop units (cooling systems, ducts, and electrical distribution systems) to be replaced and located closer to the edge of the roof, the contractor and project engineer needed a rooftop safety compliance partner. With the new placement of the rooftop cooling units, a safety solution was required to ensure safe passage on the roof during routine maintenance.

Skyline Ladders

Galvanized steel Safety Rail System

To ensure compliance and eliminate any hazard while maintaining the rooftop HVAC units, our team of height safety experts recommended a 17’ x 22’ x 4’ (adjustable corner) galvanized steel guardrail system. The RoofBarrier 5001 Series is a non-penetrating permanent guardrail system that meets the most stringent of rooftop safety regulations. With the galvanized steel safety rail system not requiring any roof penetration, the solution was easy to incorporate into the current building envelope. Our guardrail systems are also shipped in prefabricated modular sections, creating an efficient and quick installation with no on-site welding, further reducing on-site labor requirements and installation costs.

Spirit of York Distillery Getting Into The Spirit of Height Safety

Spirit of York Distillery Getting Into The Spirit of Height Safety

Toronto Based York Distillery

The vision for Spirit of York Distillery was always a big, bold, aspirational, enduring goal – to craft some of the world’s most premium, best-tasting spirits. Toronto is a world-class city, deserving of world-class spirits. Capable of rivalling those made in any other primary market or city. Spirit of York is that spirit.

The Spirit of York Distillery team is passionate, spirited, and determined to bring something unique to the table. Through a spirit of collaboration, they’ve distilled these premium spirits down to their very DNA and essence. To produce a premium, distinctive spirit. They’ve all had a hand in turning Spirit of York into the success it is today. Each bottle is proudly filled and sealed by hand at the distillery.

Custom Safety Requirements

Spirit of York Distillery required a height safety solution to gain access to a 10-foot by 10-foot four-story tower housing their equipment. Woodbecker Inc., a construction management and general contractor, worked with our team of height safety specialists to have an elegant, safe, and compliant access ladder with an aluminum walkway system designed.

Rooftop Safety

An Elegant Height Safety Solution

We can talk about what we designed for the distillery or let James Becker, owner of Woodbecker Inc., speak about his experience.

Replacement of a non-compliant wood guardrail & crossover system

Replacement of a non-compliant wood guardrail & crossover system

Toronto Commercial Rooftop

The McDonald’s Canadian corporate headquarters is located at 1 McDonald’s Place in Toronto. Lennard Commercial Realty manages the commercial property. Their extensive experience and broad expertise, topped by their key connections, make them a great partner for large and small organizations.

Rooftop Safety Plan

To expedite the need for service on their HVAC systems, the original structure was manufactured on-site out of wood. Fast forward a few years later, and Lennard Commercial Realty’s maintenance team had a few safety concerns with their rooftop safety plan and the walkway wood structure. The team identified that the wood structure was non-compliant with local height safety guidelines. It was ultimately rotting away due to the snow and rain penetrating the wood. With the building also being 11 stories high, the structure was subject to high winds, making the walkway and platform system unstable during windy weather.

Lennard’s facility maintenance team was concerned with the current structure not meeting local safety guidelines, ultimately rendering it non-compliant. Even if the system were in perfect condition, it still wouldn’t be considered compliant as it does not meet local height safety regulations.

The facility maintenance team was looking for a permanent solution to provide safe access to the building’s extensive HVAC system. Lennard reached out to our rooftop safety specialists to discuss their safety goals below.

  • The requirement for a permanent solution.
  • The system to be powder coated with a customer yellow color to match the rest of the building and roof.
  • A stocked solution as a quick turnaround would be required.
  • A solution that would be quick and easy to install.
  • An anti-slip walkway and crossover system.
  • A solution that meets both local and TSSA height safety guidelines.
Skyline Ladders
Skyline Ladders

Roof Safety Audit Delivers Results

We worked with a local contractor, High Tech Communications, to conduct an on-site roof audit. Virtual and on-site safety audits are fulfilled complimentary by our team and help provide a great deal of context and direction when creating a customized rooftop safety solution.

Our team delivered a custom walkway and crossover solution that not only met the requirements listed above but surpassed them.

  • All drawings were stamped by engineering and included solutions that would yield a 4-week turnaround.
  • The system met all local and TSSA guidelines, ensuring a compliant safety solution.
  • Perforated walkways and steps to ensure maximum grip during the winter months.
  • The system was fully modular, making it easy to install on-site. This helped in reducing the overall installation costs of the solution.
  • The walkway, platforms and guardrails are all manufactured in aluminum. This lightweight material made it easy and less costly to transport the material to the roof.
  • With the system being self-ballasted, the unit was not required to penetrate the roof membrane. This eliminated the need for repairs to reseal any holes the installation would have made.

Toronto Community Housing Upgrades Rooftop Safety to Meet TSSA Regulations

Toronto Community Housing Upgrades Rooftop Safety to Meet TSSA Regulations

Toronto Community Housing

The Toronto Community Housing is the largest social housing provider in Canada and the second largest in North America. They are wholly owned by the City of Toronto and operate in​ a non-profit manner. Toronto Community Housing has 2,100 buildings​ and 50 million square feet of residential space, which represent a $9 billion public asset.

Toronto Community Housing homes and communities are in 106 of Toronto’s 140 neighborhoods, providing homes to nearly 60,000 low and moderate-income households. Their 110,000 residents come from many different backgrounds with a diversity in age, education, language, mental and physical disability, religion, ethnicity and race.

Eliminating Rooftop Hazard

Rooftop Safety

The Toronto Community Housing was looking for a budget friendly solution to meet the strict rooftop safety requirements of the TSSA. In order for the TSSA to service both the mechanical penthouses and electrical transformer located on the roof, a safe passage would need to be created from both the north and south wing roof access points to the mechanical penthouse. With the roof having no guardrail or parapet at least 42” in height, the full length of the walkway (on both sides) would require guardrail system to eliminate any rooftop hazards.

Skyline Ladders

Compliant Safety Solution

The Toronto Community Housing was looking for a long lasting and non-penetrating solution that would be used in conjunction with their current paver walkway system. It was important that the units be tested by a third party, ensuring compliance, while being aesthetically pleasing. A non-penetrating RoofBarrier system was the perfect solution for their needs. Not only does the Skyline Group RoofBarrier system surpass Canadian rooftop safety standards, it’s galvanized steel material will ensure it looks new even after years of usage. Unique to the Skyline Group RoofBarrier system, it’s modular design and lightweight material made it easy and cost effective for the general contractors during installation. While also making it a budget friendly solution.

Looking For A Rooftop Safety Solution That Meets Hurricane Loadings

Looking For A Rooftop Safety Solution That Meets Hurricane Loadings

Bristol Myers

Bristol Myers Squibb believes in the power of science to address some of the most challenging diseases of our time. Their focus on these unmet needs comes during a remarkable time when unprecedented scientific breakthroughs are advancing the treatment of disease as never before in human history.

They work every day to transform patients’ lives through science. Each day, their employees worldwide work together to meet the needs of their patients. Bristol combines the agility of biotech with the reach and resources of an established pharmaceutical company to create a global leading biopharma company powered by talented individuals who drive scientific innovation.

With numerous advancements in oncology, hematology, immunology, and cardiovascular disease, they are dedicated to helping patients prevail over serious diseases.

Rooftop Safety

Safety Challenge Requiring Experience

The 460,000 square foot facility on 33 acres produces biologics medicines and Coumadin. Bristol reached out to our rooftop safety specialists to better understand their rooftop safety needs and ensure compliance on a crowded roof. With various large HVAC units, ducts, pipes and more, Bristol was looking to ensure that these RTUs (rooftop units) could be easily maintained. There are many rooftop guardrail, crossover and access ladder providers in North America that can help with meeting safety compliance, although the company was looking for;
  • A modular solution that is quick and easy for the contractor to install.
  • One single supplier that can help provide the required roof safety products and be actively involved in delivering stamped drawings for the basis of design.
  • Has experience working on large-scale design projects, as this project was valued at over $500,000.
  • Can incorporate an aesthetically pleasing guardrail design, limiting visibility from the ground.
  • Most importantly, be certified by a third party to meet hurricane loading requirements. While still requiring a non-penetrating solution to minimize roof damage, repairs, and potential leakage.

Transforming Rooftop Safety

Our team proposed a solution comprised of various galvanized non-penetrating 5003 Series RoofBarrier systems, aluminum crossovers and access ladders. In some areas of the roof, where ducts were located on the edge of the roof, we proposed a fixed guardrail system alongside the parapet. Here is what our solution was able to solve.

  • The 5003 series is considered to be an architectural guardrail. It is a non-penetrating self-ballasted guardrail comprised of curved handrails, making the bars invisible when at ground level.
  • Its modular design and lightweight material ensured a quick and easy installation. While also offering the opportunity to grow their safety needs further, as the roof plans expand to meet production requirements.
  • Our company prides itself on being a one-stop shop to making rooftop safety access and compliance easy. With thousands of projects under our belt and years of experience working with contractors, engineers, consultants and building owners, Bristol felt at ease working with our height specialists.
  • Create a safe passage around the roof, along with to and from each roof access point.
  • We were one of the only suppliers to test this custom non-penetrating guardrail system with up to 60-mile winds with a third party to meet hurricane loading requirements for the area.

5 Reasons Why You Would Select A Non-Penetrating Rooftop Guardrail System

5 Reasons Why You Would Select A Non-Penetrating Rooftop Guardrail System

Both penetrating and non-penetrating systems will keep roof workers (contractors, maintenance staff, and service teams) safe while working on a commercial flat roof, minimizing the risk of injury. Why do facility managers and roofing contractors prefer installing a non-penetrating roof barrier system? Here are 5 common reasons why you would select a non-penetrating rooftop guardrail.

Rooftop Safety

Flexibility

A non-penetrating solution gives you the flexibility to install the system wherever you need it on the roof, regardless of any load barring or structural concerns. This type of system also enables you to reuse the same equipment once a roof is reroofed. Yes, you can do so as well with a fixed guardrail, although the simplicity of just moving the system to the side for a repair to the roof and putting it back in place without making more holes is usually underestimated.

Quick & Easy While Reducing Costs

Our line of RoofBarrier guardrails require less installation time and labor due to their modular design! For contractors, this means you’ll be saving on installation time, labor, and costs. If you are a facility manager, the reduction in labor will contribute towards reducing your overall budgetary requirements.

No Roof Repairs Required

If you plan on fastening the system to the roof, once the installation is complete you will need to repair and/or reseal those sections of the roof. Often the cost of resealing and repairing the flat roof is not taken into consideration when choosing between a fixed guardrail vs non-penetrating guardrail solution.

No Structural Concerns

At times, due to where the barrier needs to be located in order to ensure rooftop safety compliance, fastening a guardrail may not be an option. We have also come across this scenario when working on older buildings and/or historical sites where preserving the site is of utmost importance.

Modular – Growing with Your Roof Needs

As your rooftop grows in either square footage and/or safety requirements, you may require an upgraded HVAC system to meet your growing needs. With a non-penetrating guardrail, you can move the system to a different location on the roof with ease or add onto an existing unit with basic hand tools, ensuring rooftop safety compliance.

Summary

Ultimately, it comes down to how quick and easy the installation process is with a modular non-penetrating guardrail system. With a non-penetrating system there is no need for any re-work to be done to the roof after installation is complete, unlike fixed systems where you need to repair and reseal the roof, potentially voiding your roof warranty.

Is A Non-Penetrating Guardrail System Non-Permanent?

Is A Non-Penetrating Guardrail System Non-Permanent?

A non-penetrating rooftop guardrail or barrier system is made up of uprights, top rails, mid rails, weighted base plates, and various clamps and screws. They are non-penetrating because the base plates that enable the posts and rails to freely stand upright are weighted, thus not requiring the installer to fasten the uprights to the roof.

Skyline Ladders

Having a non-penetrating guardrail is indeed a permanent rooftop safety solution. Both penetrating and non-penetrating systems will keep roof workers (contractors, maintenance staff, and service teams) safe while working on the roof, minimizing the risk of a fall-related injury. Our line of rooftop guardrail solutions has remained on roofs with minimal maintenance requirements for 10+ years. Just like guardrail solutions that are fastened to the roof, non-penetrating systems will stand the test of time. With that being said, why do facility managers and roofing contractors prefer installing a non-penetrating roof barrier system? Here is why you would choose a non-penetrating rooftop guardrail;

  • Gives you the flexibility to move the system, enabling you to reuse the same equipment once a roof is reroofed.
  • Our line of RoofBarrier guardrails require less installation time and labor due to their modular design! For contractors, this means you’ll be saving on installation time, labor, and costs. If you are a facility manager, the reduced labor requirements will help towards reducing your overall budgetary requirements.
  • Depending on the design and material of your roof, fastening a guardrail may simply not be an option.
  • If you plan on fastening the system to the roof, once the installation is complete, you will need to repair and/or reseal those sections of the roof. More often than not, the cost of resealing and repairing the commercial roof is not taken into consideration when choosing between a penetrating vs non-penetrating guardrail.
  • Unlike others, our array of roof barrier products are modular in design, making it extremely easy to set up and install on-site. All you need are a few simple hand tools.
  • With each standard RoofBarrier base plate weighing 40 – 100 lbs, non-penetrating systems will withstand sunshine, high winds, rain and snow.
  • If your yearly rooftop inspection/audit yields maintenance and/or repairs, having a modular non-penetrating solution will facilitate the process. Furthermore, making it simple to ensure rooftop safety compliance.
  • Meets and surpasses North American rooftop safety regulations.

Ultimately, it comes down to how quick and easy the installation process is with a modular non-penetrating guardrail system. There is also no need for any re-work to be done to the roof after installation, unlike fixed systems where you need to repair and reseal the roof, potentially voiding your roof warranty.

5 Common Rooftop Safety Hazards

5 Common Rooftop Safety Hazards

While working on rooftops safety is a priority! With advancements in infrastructure and the need for businesses to evolve their physical space, flat roofs across the country are becoming crowded. These rooftop units (RTUs) and the crowding that occurs are a cause for concern. Today’s rooftops are presenting various potential hazards. This article will take you through the 5 most common hazards we encounter on a regular basis.

Rooftop Safety

RooF Edge Awareness

Whether you have all the time in the world to finish the project at hand, or just a few minutes before closing time to get home, there is always a risk we lose track of where we are on the roof. Roof edge awareness is ensuring that you are aware of how close you are to the edge of the roof at all times. At any point in time, if you need to travel close to the roof’s edge to get to an area of the roof, or conduct service/work while remaining close to the edge of a roof, a permanent safety solution like a roof barrier may be required. You also have the option of setting up a warning line system to help roof workers to quickly identify a hazard, whether that hazard is the edge of the roof or a skylight.

Weather & Visibility Concerns

Always keep a look out for changes in weather that can reduce visibility while on the roof. Rooftop surfaces like TPO membranes can become very slippery when wet, at the same token they can also blind you while working on a sunny summer day. Depending where you are located in the country you might also be subject to high amounts of snow, keep in mind that snow can easily cover access points and hazards, like skylights, overnight. Ensure you always have safe passage, regardless of the weather, to and from your rooftop access points.

Skylights, Hatches, and Other RTUs

As a safety precaution, you should always take the time to review the roof plan prior to stepping onto the roof. On the roof plan you will find the location of various rooftop units you are possibly looking to service that are close to the edge, along with vents, ducts, gas lines and more. Knowing this in advance will help ensure you take the safest path to your destination on the roof, while being aware of where the roof guardrail systems are located. In the event you are required to work close to the edge of the roof you will at least know if it is a safe environment.

Often, a roof safety hazard is only brought to the attention of a building owner once a contractor or service provider visits the roof to service an RTU, like a HVAC system. At which point it becomes an urgent request so that maintenance can continue, as work may be temporarily suspended until a roof guardrail is installed.

Roof Access Ladder Placement

There is a perception that many rooftop fall accidents and injuries occur on the roof itself, but the reality is that these accidents often occur when attempting to access the roof. With that comes training, employees who require routine access to the rooftop should undergo training to safely ascend and descend.

Before using a fixed hatch or roof access ladder, it is important to check the integrity of the ladder and ensure it’s safe to climb. No matter if it is the first time and only time you require to access the ladder or it’s a daily routine for you, reviewing points of failure is about putting safety top of mind. A fixed access ladder should have its feet secured to the wall and possibly the ground, with the top of the ladder being secured to the roof. Annual fixed access ladder inspections should be well documented and help to ensure your fixed access ladder is always safe.

Roof Stability and Structure

You may be working on the roof due to its degrading structure, working towards improving its stability and integrity. Assuming you have assessed the roof structure and are standing on a compliant and safe roof. One thing to note, and especially applicable to older structures, it is important to assess the roof and understand its load ratings and structure. Doing so will help you better understand what can and cannot be installed as a safety solution to the roof. Some solutions can be manufactured in steel, adding a lot of weight to certain parts of the roof, while also requiring a secure location to fix the solution. We have encountered many projects where the structure of the building yields an aluminum lightweight non-penetrating modular roof guardrail, like our Roofbarrier solutions.

How about changes in elevation on the roof? Portions of the rooftop may be higher and/or lower than the roof access point. Such drops in roof elevation can also include narrow walkways, making it that you are always walking or working near a fall hazard. These environments will need careful consideration as there are a mixture of crossover ladders, access ladders, walkways and guardrails that may need to be considered when creating a safe working environment.

Don’t discover safety by accident! Reach out to your rooftop or height safety provider to learn how you can create a safe and compliant rooftop environment.

Choosing the Right Base Plate for Your Rooftop Guardrail System

Choosing the Right Base Plate for Your Rooftop Guardrail System

What is a Base Plate?

Baseplates hold up the guardrail posts of non-penetrating free-standing roof barrier systems that can be used in a temporary and/or permanent installation. Their weight, material, and profile are all considered when looking to protect your flat commercial roof from a fall hazard.

Base Plate For Your Rooftop Guardrail System

Material & Weight

The material and weight of a base plate go hand in hand. You are essentially looking for a base plate made of heavy material to protect you from a potential fall. Otherwise, if the base plates are lightweight, the barrier itself will move with ease when trying to stop you from falling. Especially when considering that the average worker is carrying various heavy tools with them, adding to the stress on the guardrail.

Base plates are commonly made from galvanized steel or powder-coated steel. It’s important to remember that your roof is subject to high winds, rain, and possibly snow, depending on where you live. The base plates are a critical component in creating a safe and compliant guardrail solution; if they are made of a material that degrades over time, you will not be able to guarantee safe passage around the roof. Therefore, you want to ensure your steel base plates are coated with an anti-corrosive layer, also minimizing the potential of rust leaching onto the roof itself and causing damage.

For example, let’s say you were to use heavy paver blocks… With various temperature changes, pavers tend to crack, eliminating the support you once thought you had. It also breaks without warning, only noticeable during your yearly roof safety inspection.

There is no set rule in terms of how heavy a base plate should be. Our standard base plates are either powder coated or galvanized and weigh 40 – 100 lbs each. If you use a cantilever style design where the weighted base plates are extended a few feet from the post, you can use a lighter weight like our 40 lb base plates.

Profile & Design

Above, we talked about base plates potentially damaging the roof. That is correct; if you have a membrane roof you will want to ensure that the steel base plates do not damage the roof. Which is why all of our heavy base plates include a thick rubber mat on the bottom, ensuring your roof remains looking new.

Moving around 100-pound base plates can get quite tiresome. Look out for base plates that include ergonomic handles to help lift and carry them safely across the roof. This is especially important if you are considering a temporary installation.

One of the most underrated features of a base plate is its profile. Our base plates are “low-profile”; they are manufactured slim and wide to reduce any chance of tripping. This is especially important if you are working during the winter months. Fresh snowfall will cover skylights, roof edges, access hatches, ducts, and your base plates. A trip can pose a severe risk of injury.

Can I Interchange Base Plates?

It is not advised to purchase your guardrails from one manufacturer and your base plates from another. Likewise, when looking to replace your base plates, it is best to consult the manufacturer of your guardrail system. They may look like they fit and have a very similar design, although it may not be safe. 

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