Rooftop Safety

Navigating Rooftop Safety: Canada’s Regulations & Best Practices

If you’re a building manager or commercial building owner in Canada, you are tasked with navigating one of the most diverse legislative landscapes in North America. This is particularly true in the realm of rooftop safety regulations, which tend to differ greatly in terms of federal and provincial jurisdictions. In the latest learning resource from Skyline Group, we explore how key decision makers can navigate these regulations, ensuring elevated safety for workers at height.

Canada’s approach to rooftop safety regulations reflects a highly complex system shaped by the many diverse jurisdictions across the country. Thus embodies one federal, ten provincial and three territorial jurisdictions, each with its own occupational health and safety legislation.

Rooftop Safety Law in Canada

Broadly speaking, federal laws cover specific industries and sectors across the country. Meanwhile, provincial and territorial regulations tend to apply to the vast majority of workplaces that fall within their boundaries.

This represents a highly decentralized framework, meaning that while the overarching principles of worker safety and accident prevention in Canada are consistent, the specifics can differ greatly from one region to another. Understanding and navigating these differences is essential for any person responsible for the safety of workers at height—including commercial building owners, building managers, and maintenance teams.

Understanding Jurisdictional Coverage

Across Canada, occupational health & safety (OH&S) jurisdiction is determined by the nature of a workplace or application, and its industry. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Federal regulations: The Canadian federal government oversees occupational health & safety for workers in federally regulated industries, ranging from telecommunications to banking and interprovincial transportation. The Canada Labour Code Part II is the standard-setting legislation for federal employees and workplaces.
  • Provincial & territorial regulations: Where federal regulations don’t apply, elevated workplaces will fall subject to provincial and territorial regulations. These regulations outline the safety obligations for most other employment contexts, and will vary slightly from one jurisdiction to another. The vast majority of workers (approximately 94%) fall under these regulations.

This dual system requires organizations to work in full compliance with multiple sets of regulations. For detailed guidance specific to your situation, we recommend consulting with one of our safety experts. Our comprehensive resource summarizes key differences in regulations – but it is always recommended you speak with a safety specialist.

While there is a shared goal of ensuring the welfare of workers at height, the specific requirements, enforcement mechanisms and compliance strategies can differ. Here is a prime example:

  • Alberta vs Quebec: Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act emphasizes employer responsibilities for hazard assessment and control, whereas Quebec’s Act respecting occupational health and safety includes provisions for joint health and safety committees.

The Internal Responsibility System (IRS)

The Internal Responsibility System (IRS) is a cornerstone of Canadian occupational health legislation, and is based on the principle that everyone in the workplace shares responsibility for safety. For commercial building owners and property managers, understanding this system and its implications is essential.

This piece of legislation promotes a culture where both employers and employees are fully engaged in their approach to identifying and resolving safety concerns. This entails a proactive approach to commercial and industrial rooftop safety, including fall hazards.

  • Employers: Employers are required to provide a safe workplace, necessary training, and appropriate safety equipment. They must also establish and maintain safety protocols and emergency procedures.
  • Employees: Employees, on their part, are obliged to use the safety equipment and follow the established safety procedures. They should also report any hazards or breaches in safety protocols they observe.

By mandating a collaborative approach, the Internal Responsibility System builds on the idea that workplace safety is a shared responsibility, encouraging active participation across multiple groups of stakeholders.

Beyond Compliance: Best Practices in Rooftop Safety

Here at Skyline, we are passionate in our belief that true rooftop safety must go beyond mere regulations and compliance requirements. It is our philosophy that true safety involves a full suite of solutions that don’t just protect a worker in the event of a fall – rather, it must prevent that fall from happening in the first place.

Below, we have captured some key tips that help organizations tick both of these boxes.

  • Risk awareness: We recommend regular and thorough reviews of your rooftop area to identify safety hazards, which may include skylights, edge risks and the positioning of equipment such as HVAC units and solar panels.
  • Training and shared learning: As a property manager or commercial building owner, you should take measures to ensure all personnel accessing elevated workspaces are fully trained on safety protocols, the layout of the rooftop and any relevant emergency procedures. Our Lunch and Learn service provides the perfect starting point.
  • Guardrail systems: Where workers are using elevated spaces, engineered guardrails manufactured to code are a bare essential. Skyline recommends installing guardrails around the perimeter of the roof and around hazardous areas to prevent the risk of a fall.
  • Safe access points: It is your responsibility to ensure safe designated access points to your rooftop, such as access ladders, paver walkways, custom walkways or stairway systems.
  • Markings and signage: Make sure your rooftop is fully equipped with appropriate signage and markings. These should indicate safe pathways, restricted areas and should guide workers away from potential hazards.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): As part of your safety protocols, you should require your staff to use appropriate PPE. This can include harnesses and non-slip footwear as examples. 

Emergency preparations: Skyline recommends a clear emergency plan for rooftop incidents, including rescue and evacuation procedures and first aid protocols. As part of your emergency preparedness, you should also keep detailed records of risk assessments, training, inspections, and maintenance activities as a record of compliance and due diligence.

While the above tips are highly recommended, they shouldn’t be viewed in isolation. Instead, they should be included as part of an organization-wide effort to create a culture of safety. Our experts are here to help you do just that.

Elevated Safety: Creating a Culture of Safety

Don’t discover safety by accident. Here at Skyline, we work within your spatial, budgetary and operational requirements to ensure the highest levels of safety for workers at height. To get started, browse our full range of solutions or reach out to us to discuss your unique requirements.

Understanding Different Types of Commercial Roofing Materials

Understanding different types of commercial roofing materials can be a challenging endeavour. However, taking the time to fully appreciate the differences between them can help building managers and commercial building owners make an informed decision – not only on cost and ease of installation, but also on the levels of safety they provide. In the latest learning resource from Skyline, we help you make an informed decision.

An Introduction to Commercial Roofing Materials

As an architect, building manager or property owner, your choice of roofing material could be one of the most important commercial building decisions you’ll make. The decision will depend on a number of factors, with a huge range of choices engineered according to where you are located within Canada.

With all of the choices out there, it is important to understand each material’s unique characteristics, advantages and limitations. However, before you address these points, it is crucial that you ask yourself the following questions…

  1. How do different roofing materials impact your building’s energy efficiency?
  2. How should climate and building usage influence your choice of roofing material?
  3. How could my choice of building materials impact maintenance operations and costs over time?
  4. Will my decision allow my building to qualify as a sustainable building?

These are just some of the many questions you should consider before making a large purchasing decision. Next, check out our overview of the most common commercial roofing materials, which can help you answer these important questions.

An Overview of Commercial Roofing Materials

While the market continues to innovate with new commercial roofing materials, we typically deal with clients who are using one of the following top 5 options: Built-Up Roofing, Single-Ply Membrane Roofing, Modified Bitumen Roofing, Metal Roofing and Green Roofing. Let’s look at those in a little more detail.

1. Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

Built-Up Roofing, commonly referred to as BUR, is perhaps the most common kind of roofing material we see in our day-to-day work. Also known as ‘tar and gravel’ roofing, this comprises multiple layers of asphalt-saturated felts. These layers alternate with bitumen and are covered with mineral or gravel granules. Here are some of the reasons that make this option so popular:

  • Impressive durability compared to other materials
  • Strong waterproofing properties
  • Enhanced grip for improved worker safety
  • Strong ability to withstand high levels of foot traffic

This material is most commonly used in flat roofing or low-slope protection, and also provides strong protection against general weathering and UV radiation.

2. Metal Roofing

In the vast majority of cases, metal roofing systems are simply standing seam metal roofs or metal panels. Naturally, metal is a primary choice where durability, longevity and aesthetic appeal are priorities. Aside from that, this commercial roofing material opens up a world of choice, particularly in the range of finishes available including copper, aluminum and steel. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of metal roofing:
 
  • Low maintenance requirements compared to alternative materials
  • Coated finishes can improve overall durability and energy efficiency 
  • A recyclable option, adding to the green credentials of a building 
  • Strong fire, wind and hail resistance, improving general levels of structural safety
Highly popular in both steep-slope and low-slope applications, this is a top choice for the aesthetic and sustainability benefits it offers.

 

3. Single-Ply Membrane Roofing 

Lightweight, flexible and easy to install, single-ply membrane roofing is among the most popular and safest options available on today’s market. Under this category are three key types:

  • TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin)
  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
  • EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer)

While TPO and PVC membranes must be heat-welded or adhered to the surface of your commercial roof, EPDM membranes can be easily installed using mechanical fasteners or an adhesive. Flexible, weather resistant and offering superb UV protection, EPDM in particular can provide a safer installation process, given that no heat-welding is required.

4. Green Roofing

Green roofing has emerged as one of the biggest roofing trends of the decade, and with the range of benefits this commercial roofing material offers, it’s not hard to see why. Stormwater management, energy efficiency, aesthetics – the benefits are endless when considering a green roof solution. Here are some of the key advantages:
 
  • Strong aesthetic appeal
  • Provision of habitats for local wildlife
  • Potential green tax incentives
  • Building efficiency & energy savings
Whilst there are many benefits, green roofing does come with its caveats, particularly around safety. Due to their vegetative nature, these systems demand a highly specialized design, with proper routine maintenance, drainage and irrigation to ensure the safety of workers at height and the integrity of the building as a whole. 
 

5. Modified Bitumen Roofing

Asphalt-based, modified bitumen waterproofing utilizes modifiers such as APP (atactic polypropylene) or SBS (styrene-butadiene-styrene) in order to improve weather resistance, flexibility and durability. 

As with green roofing, this particular choice of roofing material does come with added safety concerns, primarily due to the fact that torching or hot asphalt is used during installation.

The Significance of Choosing the Right Roofing Material

Your choice of roofing material shouldn’t depend on aesthetics alone. As a building manager or commercial building owner, it is important that your decision also takes into consideration worker safety, as well as your business’s bottom line. Below we have outlined some of the key concerns you should consider for improved worker safety:

  • Safe passage: Slips, trips and falls are among the most common workplace accidents in Canada. When deciding on a material, consider how maintenance teams and workers at height can journey across your rooftop safely. The level of grip on the roofing material and slip protection are crucial to bear in mind.
  • Installation processes: If you’re using your own team to install a roofing material, always consider how that job can be done safely. Where hot works are required, ensure that your staff are adequately trained and prepared.
  • Durability: Over the years, we’ve seen many safety incidents that have arised due to wear and tear – falling structures, weak structures and more can lead to potentially fatal falls. When deciding on a material, be sure to make durability a priority.
  • Design: Simply adjusting the design and layout of the rooftop can help in reducing the chance of injury. For example, placing HVAC units away from the edge of the roof will make a safer maintenance process. A high parapet wall can also act as a safety guardrail, creating a perimeter while on the rooftop. But this can also make it challenging to remove snow during the winter months.
  • Non-Penetrating: If you are looking to install a safety solution like a guardrail or crossover stepladder, with a new roof membrane do you opt for a non-penetrating solution? This will ensure compliance and safety, while also keeping your new rooftop intact, and free from potential leaks when compared to a penetrating solution. OR are you opting for a steel roof, resulting in the requirement of a clamping-based solution in order to create a levelled walkway system.

Making an Informed Decision

When it comes to making an informed decision about creating a safe, and secure environment on your new commercial or industrial rooftop, don’t fall victim to guessing. Only by consulting with a qualified roofing and safety expert can you be sure that your decision has been made with all due considerations. With that in mind, our safety experts are on standby to share their experiences and expertise.

Elevated Work. Elevated Safety.

Here at Skyline, we use decades of experience to protect people, companies and brands. For further advice on improving the levels of safety in your elevated work area, reach out to one of our safety experts. Alternatively, browse our full selection of rooftop safety solutions.

Ensuring Roof Railing Compliance on Canadian Commercial Buildings

Ensuring roof railing compliance on Canadian commercial buildings isn’t just ‘best practice’ – it is a legal and moral requirement that you face as a building manager or commercial property owner. This is particularly true in the case of rooftop railing systems – including guardrails and bumplines – which provide crucial lines of defence against falls from height.

For many of our customers, the key challenge in this area is in both understanding and applying safety codes which differ significantly from province to province. Indeed, while these regulations vary, it is generally understood that adherence to Canadian Occupational Health & Safety Regulations and the National Building Code of Canada is essential. We’ll delve more into this subject later in this learning resource.

Rooftop Railing Compliance: Protecting People, Protecting Companies

Lady Justice and gavel with law book and Canada flag in background

Your responsibilities extend far beyond ticking a compliance box. Aside from making the right investments to protect contractors and maintenance teams using your elevated workspace, your responsibility must also be to protect your company, both from a perspective of legal compliance and maintaining the integrity of your brand.

Let’s illustrate this point by looking at an example of a company in Ontario, who received a hefty fine of $110,000 after a worker was fatally injured from a fall in the workplace, with an added 25 percent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. This case underlines not just the financial repercussions of failing to meet safety standards, but also the profound impact on worker safety and well-being. Aside from these points, it highlights the consequences such incidents can have in terms of the safety reputation of a company.

Understanding Provincial Variations in Safety Codes

As previously mentioned, when reviewing safety requirements a building manager or commercial property owner will be largely impacted by where the property is located within Canada. There can also be some subtle differences depending on where the property is located within the province as well, for example requirements or even preferences can differ from Montreal to Quebec City. However, as a general rule of thumb, it is crucial to be aware of occupational health and safety laws that require action when a worker has the potential to fall from about 3 meters (10ft) in height. 

In the vast majority of cases, fall protection is required when:

  • Other means of fall protection are not available or possible, such as guardrails;
  • Working at a height of 3 metres or more (permanent and/or temporary work areas);
  • Working at a height of less than 3 metres when the surface below could cause a greater injury than just the fall (e.g., machinery; risk of drowning in water or other liquid; open tanks, vats, or pits containing hazardous materials; materials that can shift);
  • A worker may fall through an opening in the work surface; or
  • It is determined that fall protection is necessary

It is important to note that while fall protection is vital, if a means of preventing access to the hazard isn’t possible, we need to find a solution. This is why safety regulations may require primarily a guardrail in place, then if no other option is available personal protective equipment (such as a lanyard) may be considered. Both these solutions, lanyards and guardrails, are a form of fall protection, although a lanyard is considered to be reactive versus a guardrail being proactive.

Our Hierarchy of Safety article discusses this in greater detail, explaining each level of safety. While the information above reflects some common principles, you can expect your safety code to be unique to your province. To highlight some of these differences that exist we included an example below. Please note that there are many facets and exceptions to take into consideration when reviewing provincial-based roof safety codes. As a result, we only included a small insert from the corresponding provincial code, this is to demonstrate how working on projects across Canada can indeed become a challenge when understanding safety requirements in order to design a safe solution.

  • Saskatchewan: 

Code: The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2020 – Chapter S-15.1 Reg 10

Control zone 9‐4 

(1) An employer or contractor shall ensure that a control zone:

         (a) is only used if a worker can fall from a level surface in a work area; and

         (b) is not less than 2 metres wide when measured from the unguarded edge.

(2) When crossing a control zone mentioned in subsection (1), a worker:

         (a) subject to subsection (4), is not required to use a fall protection system,

         other than the control zone, to enter or leave the work area; and

         (b) shall follow the most direct route to get to or from the unguarded edge.

(3) An employer or contractor shall ensure that a control zone is clearly marked with an effective raised warning line or other equally effective method if a worker is working more than 2 metres from an unguarded edge.

(4) An employer or contractor shall ensure that a worker who has to work within

    a control zone uses:

         (a) a travel restraint system; or

         (b) a means that is as equally effective as a travel restraint system and that

         prevents the worker from getting to the unguarded edge.

The above information is an extract from Saskatchewan’s Occupation Health and Safety requirements.

  • Quebec: 

Code: Chapter S-2.1, r. 13 Regulation respecting occupational health and safety

354.1. Characteristics of a warning line: A warning line must be

  1. continuous and installed on all sides of the work area that it delimits;
  2. placed at a distance of 2 m or more from any place where a worker may fall from a height;
  3. made of a rigid strip, a cable or a chain able to withstand a tractive force of at least 2,22 kN;
  4. equipped with flags made of high-visibility materials and placed at intervals of not more than 2 m;
  5. capable of withstanding a load of 100 N applied horizontally at the line’s highest point or vertically at its midpoint between 2 stanchions;
  6. completed at each access point, storage area or hoisting area by a path formed by 2 parallel lines not exceeding 3 m in length. In places where the access path starts at a roof edge, a guardrail must be installed on the side of the roof, in compliance with section 33.3, so as to cover the first 3 m on either side of the access path’s starting point; and
  7. installed so that the line is
    1. located between 0,7 m above the work surface at the line’s lowest point and 1,2 m above that surface at its highest point;
    2. supported by stanchions placed at intervals of not more than 2,5 m; and
    3. attached to each stanchion so that pushing on the line between 2 stanchions does not reduce the height of the line between adjacent stanchions by an equivalent amount.

The above information is an extract from Quebec’s Occupational Health and Safety requirements.

Both codes refer to warning lines, and both comply with federal standards yet Saskatchewan focuses on the line’s application, while Quebec includes very strict design guidelines for the product itself. This means all Quebec-compliant bumplines will be acceptable in Saskatchewan, but very rarely would the opposite be true. On the other hand, due to these restrictions, a bumpline designed for Quebec would not be competitively priced when compared to a solution designed for Saskatchewan.

Despite all of the information out there, the challenge remains in terms of translating these regulations and applying them to your elevated workspace. That’s why we recommend reaching out to one of our experienced height safety experts, who provide the knowledge, expertise and experience to ensure your rooftop goes beyond compliance, ensuring total safety for workers at height.

Beyond Compliance: An Overview of Our Guardrail Safety Solutions

Guardrails are an essential solution for ensuring roof railing compliance on Canadian commercial buildings. Depending on your requirements, the solutions below can help you take your first steps beyond compliance into safety for workers at height.

Non-Penetrating Roof Safety Guardrails

Products Gardcheck-RoofBarrier 5001 SERIES

The RoofBarrier series features a non-penetrating, self-ballasted guardrail system that comes in pre-assembled modular components for easy onsite assembly. This design eliminates the need for roof membrane penetration during installation, offering significant time and cost savings. Additionally, it avoids the need for any post-installation modifications to the roof membrane, such as resealing the holes made by a penetrating solution. Streamlining the process while ensuring robust rooftop safety.

Fixed Roof Safety Guardrails

Fixed Aluminum Bottom Mount Railing

The fixed roof safety guardrail system arrives in pre-assembled modular components for straightforward on-site assembly. Designed for versatility, it can be securely mounted to either concrete or steel parapets, with options for side or top mounting, streamlining the installation process while providing long-lasting safety solutions for elevated work areas.

Bumplines & Warning Line Systems

RoofLine Series

The RoofLine system offers a practical solution for situations requiring roof access without direct proximity to the roof edge. It serves as a safety line, preventing workers from approaching areas where falls could occur. This approach not only enhances safety by keeping personnel away from hazardous zones but also minimizes the need for guardrail systems, presenting a cost-effective alternative for managing rooftop safety.

Roof Hatch Guardrails

HatchBarrier

This modular hatch guardrail system, available in both non-penetrating or fixed, encircles the hatch to provide a secure entry and exit point for personnel accessing the roof via the hatch access ladder. Coupled with a door, it allows the roof hatch to stay open for easy use by roof workers and subcontractors, ensuring safety without impeding workflow.

 

Discover Skyline – Elevated Work. Elevated Safety.™ 

Don’t discover safety by accident. Work with Skyline Group today and go beyond compliance to achieve true rooftop safety. To get started, browse our full range of rooftop safety solutions. Alternatively, contact us to organize an On-Site Safety Consultation. 

The Benefits of Modular Rooftop Safety Solutions

Throughout North America, property managers and commercial building owners are embracing modular rooftop safety solutions on an industry-wide scale. In the latest learning resource from Skyline Group, our safety experts examine why modular safety products have seen such a rise in popularity.

Here at Skyline Group, decades of experience has taught us that when it comes to investing in rooftop safety solutions, property managers and building owners have a number of concerns before proceeding with installation. 

 

Rooftop Safety Solutions: Understanding the Pain Points

Whilst these concerns will differ according to the specific safety requirements of a given rooftop, we often receive inquiries on the following challenges:

  • Cost: For the vast majority of organizations, installing rooftop fall protection systems represents a major investment. In many cases, we have seen instances where safety solutions are installed to meet the minimum requirements of Canadian provincial legislation – a decision driven largely by concerns around the expenses they entail. This presents challenges of its own, where a mere ‘box-ticking’ approach to legal compliance often leaves significant safety gaps for workers at height. When reviewing welded solutions, there is also additional labor and transportation related costs that can go unnoticed.
  • Site disruption: Another significant consideration for property managers and commercial building owners surrounds the potential disruption that installation work can have on their day-to-day business and maintenance operations. In today’s challenging market, downtime represents lost profits and lost opportunities, which can make investing in true safety an afterthought.
  • Installation time: Beyond the general site disruption, other concerns surround the installation task itself, particularly around how long that can take. This is particularly true where penetrating and fully welded solutions are employed, that often require significant changes to a rooftop layout before the systems are installed. Or the requirement of repairs to be done once the installation is completed.
  • Technical expertise: Finally, we have worked with many decision-makers who are concerned about the difficulty of installing these systems. The fact is that many organizations do not have the facility or technical expertise required to install complex safety solutions on dangerous rooftop environments. Add to the mix a complex regulated environment and being safe just isn’t as easy as it should be. 

In today’s busy and time-constrained world, these concerns are perfectly legitimate. However, an industry-wide shift is currently underway, where modular rooftop safety solutions are increasingly seen as a solution that can help navigate these common challenges. 

 

How Modular Rooftop Safety Systems Can Help

walkways, guardrails, and access ladders on rooftop

 

At Skyline Group, our modular solutions are becoming the primary choice for building owners, specifiers, contractors and building professionals across North America. With these systems offering significant benefits over welded alternatives. In the following sections, we break down these benefits.

1. Modular Solutions are Easier to Transport 

Across virtually all industries, delivery and transportation fees are on the rise. Where large systems are being delivered – such as access ladders or walkways – these costs are often expected to increase year over year.

Where modular solutions are concerned, this challenge is minimized. With these products coming flat-packed, transportation and delivery is a simple process that requires minimal space to transport or lift to a rooftop. Beyond that, their lightweight, flatpack nature means that your team can easily carry those systems to the rooftop to be installed, substantially reducing the level of time and effort involved. In some cases we have seen customers save on crane rental fees to facilitate the installation process by carrying the modular components through the service elevator and/or hatch (or doorway to the rooftop).

2. Modular Rooftop Installations Are Easy to Adjust & Adapt

caged rooftop access ladder

Time and time again, we’re seeing ease of installation as a deciding factor for property managers and commercial building owners when opting for modular rooftop safety systems. Let’s take a closer look:

  • No technicians required: By opting for a modular system, you can proceed in confidence knowing that your facility or maintenance teams will be able to complete the installation with ease. That being said, having a third party contractor install the solution will be a quick and easy process.
  • Installation manuals supplied: All of our modular solutions come with detailed installation manuals, aiding in a prompt and compliant installation. 
  • Costs reduced: This ease of installation brings new benefits when it comes to installation costs. With the ease of handling, transportation and installation, you see substantial savings in your overall project costs. While also enabling the capabilities of meeting strict deadlines.

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 to work with aluminum than with heavier, harder-to-manage alternatives. For example the handling of an aluminum modular access ladder is much simpler than a welded steel access ladder.

3. Modular Rooftop Installations Are Easy to Adjust & Adapt

Skylight Railings from Skyline Group

Workers at height may require various adjustments to be made on-site to rooftop safety installations in order for a solution to fit. Where this may entail significant cost and effort with penetrating and welded solutions, this is fortunately not a concern with modular alternatives. In the event that your roof layout grows with the needs of your business, a modular system can also adapt and grow with your needs. This is not as simple when you have a welded solution already installed.

The fact is that with modular systems, adjustment and adaptation is a simple affair, requiring minimal manpower. This empowers property managers, building owners and contractors with the flexibility they need to ensure the highest levels of safety and design throughout the life of the building.

4. Minimal Changes to a Rooftop

rooftop guardrails with sunrise on the background

Where welded solutions are being installed, significant changes should be expected to a rooftop, with higher levels of noise and general disruption. This can also bring higher levels of cost in the event that any maintenance work or repair work may be required.

This is another area where modular height safety solutions can offer tangible benefits. Whilst disruption is minimal, their temporary nature means that they will have minimal impact on the structural composition of the rooftop and allow for continuity in maintaining the rooftop units.

 

Safety Beyond Compliance 

The benefits of modular rooftop safety systems are significant. However, the most significant advantage of these solutions lies in the fact that they don’t only meet provincial safety standards – they go beyond that, ensuring total safety and fall protection for workers at height. 

 

Skyline: Protecting People, Companies & Brands

Elevated safety, the trusted choice. Work with Skyline Group today and ensure your rooftop goes beyond compliance to true safety. To get started, speak to a safety expert today.

Elevated Work, Elevated Safety: How Skyline Protects Your Brand

When it comes to rooftop safety, the primary focus is on protecting those people who use your building; including facility teams, maintenance staff and contractors. However, the safety at the heart of your rooftop operations has broader implications, impacting not just workers at height, but your brand as a whole. In an exclusive insight from our safety experts, we explore how taking the right safety measures protects your brand integrity. 

 

Rooftop workers face significant risks in their day-to-day work. The sad fact is that these risks continue to be reflected in the statistics: more than 42,000 Canadians are injured every year in work-related falls, representing 17% of lost-time injuries. The cost is significant – not only in terms of the lives and families effected – but also in the financial ramifications, with the average settlement for a slip and fall case in Ontario reaching anywhere between $10,000 to $418,000.

However, beyond these very real consequences lies a hidden cost: the disastrous impact that such incidents can have upon a brand. It takes much work to build a positive brand identity, but just one accident can bring that work crashing down. 

The Impact of Accidents on Brand Integrity 

While fines can be paid back, the damage to a brand’s reputation can, in some cases, be irreparable. This can damage profits, hinder recruitment efforts and even lead to closure of the business.

Let’s take a look at each of these impacts in more detail:

  • Loss of reputation: In today’s competitive market, trustability is ranked among one of the most important factors for the modern day consumer. By demonstrating that you have failed to take sufficient measures to safeguard the lives of those who work for you, your brand can be expected to deal with the related consequences.
  • Damaged profits: Your reputation is directly linked to your levels of profitability. Rooftop safety solutions focus on protecting lives – but we cannot ignore the fact that it also protects your organization’s bottom line.
  • Impacts on recruitment: If you fail to recognise the importance of health and safety, your business may face a decrease in productivity and an increase in staff turnover as morale falls. As an additional consequence, you may face difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff. We see this becoming a bigger challenge when a company is located in a smaller town that relies on nearby talent.

How Skyline Protects Your Brand

Here at Skyline Group, we believe in a holistic approach that focuses on building a culture of safety, as opposed to meeting the bare minimum in terms of provincial safety requirements. Here’s how we do it:

  • A custom approach: No two brands – nor two rooftops – are the same. That’s why we approach each of our projects in a way that is personalized to their unique safety requirements. Our safety experts may visit to survey your rooftop, identifying opportunities to improve safety across all access points. Our approach minimizes the risk of fall or injury as much as possible, keeping the risk of reputational damage to the most minimum degree possible.
  • The value of knowledge: By creating a culture of safety in your company, you can ensure that the risk of injury – and reputational damage – is a consideration for all members of staff. Through our industry-leading training services, you will learn about rooftop fall protection and access systems and how they can be applied in various rooftop applications, along with how they can reduce the liability for property owners, and ultimately create a safer working environment.

If you’re a commercial building owner or property manager, our advice is simple: don’t discover safety by accident. Make sufficient preparations now to protect your workers: their lives – and your brand reputation.

Protect Your Brand with Skyline Group

The power to protect your people, your company and your brand is in your hands. Discover elevated safety with Skyline Group. To get started, browse our full range of rooftop safety solutions or speak to one of our safety experts today.

 

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. 

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.

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