Rooftop Safety

French Fry Production Plant Improves Roof Safety: A Case Study

French Fry Production Plant Improves Roof Safety: A Case Study

The Challenge

Rooftop workers, including facilities and maintenance teams needed a safer way to navigate various roof levels, requiring a system that integrated and installed on-site with ease by their preferred installer.

The Solution

A system made up of modular aluminum and galvanized steel components to create a safe means of accessing the rooftop and its various levels, ensuring a safe environment for facility maintenance teams and contractors to work freely while at height.


McCain® was started by the McCain brothers in New Brunswick and is still proudly Canadian and family-owned. A homegrown Canadian success story, McCain now has 51 plants around the globe and produces one in every four French fries worldwide.

McCain Foods’ Canada Carberry facility is one of the company’s french fry production plants located in Manitoba. The plant processes about 430 million pounds of Manitoba-grown potatoes every year, mostly into french fries, with the facility employing over 200 workers.

With the company having a wealth of knowledge and experience in operating the production plant safely, there was a need for better understanding of the hazards that are present on their industrial rooftop. The facility maintenance team reached out to their roof safety specialists at Skyline Group to partner on elevating their fall protection safety program. With McCain Foods having experience in trusting our solutions on previous projects it was an easy decision to reach out for guidance on their Manitoba plant.


The facility maintenance team at McCain Foods routinely reviews their safety protocols, this time they were focused on improving safety on two fronts: (1) creating safe access between roof levels, while (2) ensuring a safe working environment for those maintaining RTUs and navigating the rooftop. The maintenance team was prepared to discuss roof safety options as they came to the table with pictures documenting the environment and areas of concern.

With roof repair and maintenance commencing, McCain Foods wanted a solution that would meet their strict deadlines to ensure that the safety solutions be put in place right after the roof repairs and upgrades were completed.

After an in-depth review of the site and roof layout, it was clear that the roof safety solutions had to solve the following hazards and safety concerns:

  • Outdoor Elements: With the rooftop being frequently visited year-round, the fall protection system needed to withstand the weather elements while providing maximum protection and grip when visibility is reduced by snow and rain.
  • Roof Edge Protection: Whenever teams are required to walk or work in proximity of the roof edge, approximately 6 feet, they are required to have some form of fall protection in order to protect workers from a potential fall. Due to the size of each roof section, workers at height constantly faced a risk of a fall.
  • Dedicated Pathway: How many times do workers at height think of taking a shortcut while working, to then realize it cost them more time? Navigating the roof can be similar in that workers will take the path that gets them to their destination the quickest – although it may not be the safest.
  • Roof Elevations: Having multiple roof elevations can be challenging and quite dangerous, as teams are climbing to new heights while already being at height. This makes it essential to find ways to ensure a safe climb, every time.
  • Replacing Non-Compliant Solutions: Ensuring compliance is crucial. At Skyline we feel that is where true safety begins – not ends. In order to gain access to the several rooftops, contractors were using a mix of DIY solutions, including contractor step ladders and extensions ladders, creating a fall concern as it is impossible to maintain three points of contact when utilizing such ad-hoc solutions.
  • Minimizing Roof Damage & Repair: When replacing a roof membrane or repairing a section of the roof, the last thing teams want to do is create new intrusions that need to be resealed on a brand-new roof. Such fixed solutions can also pose a roof warranty issue while yielding the building owner increased labour hours and costs.

It goes without saying that the solutions provided would be required to not only meet, but surpass Manitoba’s Occupational Safety Code requirements.


When it came to creating a safe climb, every time, Skyline recommended modular aluminum roof stairs that enable safe access to each elevation of the rooftop. The roof stairs added an extra layer of safety over a fixed access ladder.

With the added side rails, employees and contractors would now be able to walk to each level safely while still carrying tools and machine parts with them. This is opposed to a fixed access ladder that would have been less suitable for a high traffic rooftop. When climbing from one rooftop to another, the addition of non-penetrating guardrails also created an enclosed perimeter, removing the risk of a fall as teams would approach the edge of the rooftop.

After reviewing the rooftop layout and where foot traffic is required to accomplish maintenance tasks, the team specified a non-penetrating galvanized steel guardrail system to be used as a means of creating a safe perimeter near the edges of the rooftop.

The system was installed where passage or work would be close to the roof edge (within 6 feet), creating a safety barrier preventing a fall from dangerous heights. Including anchor points wasn’t an option as McCain Foods wanted to avoid a fall proactively rather than have a system in place for when one does fall. The robust construction caught the eye of the maintenance team, while the modularity of the solution and its capability to be easily fitted for installation on-site made life easy for the installers.

With the solution being non-penetrating, no intrusions were made to the rooftop, eliminating the risk of leaks or the need to repair the rooftop after installation. The modularity of the unit also means that the guardrail can expand and grow with the needs of the rooftop. Finally, the design of the non-penetrating guardrail system took into consideration the placement of the roof stairs, creating a safe barrier as you approach the steps to descend to the floor below.


The comprehensive safety solution provided by Skyline Group to McCain Foods’ Manitoba facility has significantly enhanced the safety and efficiency of rooftop operations. By installing modular aluminum roof stairs and non-penetrating galvanized steel guardrails, Skyline Group addressed multiple challenges effectively:

  • Enhanced Access and Safety: The aluminum stairs provided secure, stable access across various roof levels, enabling workers to move safely with tools and equipment. This was a crucial improvement over previous ad-hoc ladder solutions that compromised safety.
  • Robust Perimeter Protection: The installation of guardrails created a solid barrier around roof edges, preventing falls from heights and increasing the overall safety for maintenance staff.
  • Non-Intrusive Installation: The non-penetrating nature of the installed systems preserved the integrity of the new roof membrane, avoiding potential leaks and warranty issues while minimizing the need for future repairs.
  • Compliance with Safety Regulations: The solutions not only met but exceeded Manitoba’s Occupational Safety Code requirements, ensuring that the facility’s safety measures were up-to-date and effective.
  • Operational Efficiency: The modularity of the safety installations facilitated quick on-site assembly, which aligned perfectly with the plant’s operational timelines and minimized disruption to their production processes.

This strategic intervention by Skyline Group has not only fortified the safety standards at McCain Foods but also fostered a culture of safety that resonates with the company’s commitment to protecting its workers and maintaining high operational efficiency.

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