Rooftop Safety

SaskPower’s Rooftop Safety Journey: A Case Study

The Challenge

Facility teams worked within 6 feet of a 10-foot or greater drop, facing significant fall hazards in their day to day work.

The Solution

A personalized package including walkway with an integrated guardrail system and a cage ladder to access the various sections of the rooftop, ensuring work area.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

Established in 1929, SaskPower is Saskatchewan’s leading power supplier. They support Saskatchewan’s growth and work to enhance the quality of life for over half a million customers. They generate power using a variety of sources and operate one of Canada’s largest grids while also being connected to the grids in Manitoba, Alberta and North Dakota.

SaskPower operates on corporate values of safety, openness, collaboration and accountability. With safety being part of the organization’s DNA, ensuring employees think ‘safety first’ when completing a task is a must. Whether you’re maintaining the grid or maintaining rooftop units, safety is uncompromisable.

ELEVATED WORK: THE CHALLENGES

Having a clear understanding of where access to the roof is located is a critical component in roof edge awareness. You want to know prior to walking onto the roof if you will encounter any hazards, such as the edge of the rooftop being to your side once stepping on the roof.

Now that you know what the environment is like around the access points, how about the points of interest? Knowing where the critical points of interest are on the rooftop, like HVAC systems or solar panels, is vital. As a facility maintenance manager or building owner you want to ensure you have a safe way to navigate from the several roof access points to these points of interest. Ultimately, enabling you to apply fall protection measures and solutions to areas where there is a risk of a trip and/or fall.

For SaskPower, safety will always be paramount. Their team understood that at any time they were working within 6 feet of a 10-foot or greater drop, they were faced with a fall hazard. When reviewing the layout of the roof it was clear that a safety plan would be required to ensure a safe means of navigating the rooftop.

ELEVATED SAFETY: OUR SOLUTIONS

In partnership with the roofing contractor and SaskPower, our team of safety specialists designed a solution that includes a walkway with an integrated guardrail system and a cage ladder to access the various sections of the rooftop. The combination of these systems created a solution that ensured safe access and a safe working environment while on the rooftop.

The non-penetrating aluminum walkway system ensured a means of having secure footing while navigating the rooftop, with the integrated guardrail system creating an enclosed barrier. This barrier not only serves as a means of increasing stability while walking, but also creates an enclosure ensuring a guided pathway. With a number of rooftop units, the walkway system was designed to ensure safe travels when close to the edge of the roof. It also allowed easier and quicker access to certain sections of the roof.

The rugged and grippy surface ensured secure footing year-round. Allowing for the snow to melt with ease through the grates. Being a lightweight modular aluminum system, installing the system on-site was easier and quicker than a welded steel solution. Being a non-penetrating system, using self-ballasted base plates provided further cost savings as repairs to the roof weren’t needed.

While on the roof there was a requirement to access elevated parts of the rooftop for maintenance purposes. When designing such a fixed access ladder, it is critical to design it in a manner where if a fall were to occur it would be controlled and away from the edge of the roof. Ultimately, preventing a secondary fall from the main rooftop. Cage ladders were specified and installed to increase safety while ascending and descending from the elevated space.

The lightweight aluminum modular ladders made it easy to transport and customize on-site while offering the user increased safety with the cage attachment and grippy rungs.

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THE TRUSTED CHOICE: PROJECT OUTCOMES

Our expertise and inventory of solutions combined to facilitate the highest levels of safety for SaskPower. A holistic approach establish a secure and reliable network environment on a rooftop that otherwise presented a number of fall and other safety hazards to facilities and maintenance teams.

Through the implementation of a walkway with an integrated walkway system, caged ladders underpinned by a gripped surface, workers at height could access and traverse the roof in a way that was both safe and efficient.

These successful outcomes were all delivered within a quick installation window, significantly reducing labor and transport costs. The result? A cost-effective, functional and durable rooftop that puts safety first.

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.

High-Slope Rooftop Safety Solution: A Case Study

When it comes to fall protection and ensuring the welfare of those working at heights, it is critical to remember that no two elevated workspaces are the same. Here is a case study of a recent rooftop safety project delivered on behalf of a large commercial building based in the state of Texas.

Project Overview 

The safety experts at Skyline Group were contacted by the facility maintenance manager and roofing contractor, working on behalf of the building owner. The roofing contractor highlighted the challenges presented by the steep sloped roof. The layout of this rooftop created a working environment fraught with risk, with a sloped design making the safe navigation of the rooftop difficult for the building owner, facility maintenance teams and contractors alike.

man standing on Texas rooftop

Elevated Work: The Challenges

For workers employed by the building owner and facility maintenance team, attempting to access and work on this sloped rooftop brought to light a series of hazards that could potentially result in a fall.

The primary safety concern in this project was in how workers had no secure footing on a sloped part of the roof, nor access to a levelled platform. In this scenario, the inclined rooftop not only creates an environment where the worker has a higher chance of tripping or falling; it also makes it extremely difficult for that worker to conduct the work at-hand.

This sloped rooftop presented inherent safety risks not just to workers at height, such as contractors and facility maintenance teams: it also compromised the safety of those outside at ground level. This was because the incline made it difficult for workers to position tools and other equipment securely. This created a scenario where those tools could roll or fall off the roof, with potentially fatal consequences if actions were not to be taken.

Finally, when walking on this sloped rooftop, facility maintenance teams and contractors had no means of secure access, especially with the slippery roof material making it a significant challenge to gain secure footing.

man on rooftop ladder on Texas rooftop

Elevated Safety: Our Solutions

Following extensive consultations and in partnership with the roofing contractor and building owner, our team of height safety and fall protection experts got to work on specifying a comprehensive package of safety solutions including a walkway with a guardrail system, a hatch guardrail system and a fixed ladder. By providing a combination of these safety essentials, Skyline Group ensured secure access and a working environment where the risk to those workers was now minimized.

Firstly, the walkway system ensured a means of having secure footing while navigating the rooftop, with the integrated guardrail system creating an enclosed barrier. This barrier not only served as a means of increasing stability while walking for workers at height, but also created an enclosure ensuring that they take the guided pathway.

Aside from that, our next focus was on addressing the lack of safety for workers while climbing out of the rooftop hatch. By recommending and implementing a custom hatch barrier solution with a gate, our team ensured a safe means of stepping out of the hatch, with the gate closing automatically behind the worker. This negated a significant safety hazard, where an open hatch could create a fall hazard with a dangerous opening where an employee could fall through.

Finally, our implementation of a fixed access ladder provided safe access to other rooftops via a dedicated hatch. With each rooftop having anchor points, we ensured that the walkway and ladder system led workers to a safe anchor point where a barrier system wasn’t possible.

Across all areas of this project, our client saw significant advantages in the modularity of the safety solutions we provided. Their lightweight aluminum construction caught the attention of the roofing contractor as it would make for an easy and quick installation.

installed rooftop safety solution. walkways, guardrails

The Trusted Choice: Project Outcomes

The outcome of this project saw height safety transformed for our client. Our comprehensive approach established a secure and dependable work environment on a challenging sloped rooftop.

Through the implementation of a walkway system with integrated guardrails, a custom hatch barrier solution, and a fixed access ladder, we significantly minimized risk factors for workers at height. This not only ensured their safety but also enhanced operational efficiency on the rooftop.

The lightweight, modular design of our solutions facilitated a swift installation, reducing labor and transport costs, thereby offering our client a cost-effective, durable, and highly functional safety system.

Count On It: What Our Customer Said 

This project had a lot to consider. We were grateful to have the support of the Skyline team, helping with designing and providing a safety solution that checked all our requirements.”

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. 

Reaching New Heights with a Modular Aluminum Access Ladder

The Challenge

When 3rd party contractors and maintenance teams were looking to access the roof section that houses the school’s gym, easy and safe access to that elevated section wasn’t available.

The Solution

Skyline Group reviewed the building designs and recommended a modular aluminum roof access ladder to ensure a safe and compliant climb to the rooftop.

Montreal High School Takes Safety to New Heights

Visitors who walk through the doors of Louis-Joseph-Papineau high school, located in the Saint-Michel district of Montreal, quickly notice the warm and friendly atmosphere. At Louis-Joseph-Papineau, students are expected to devote themselves to their studies and participate in various committees and  extracurricular activities. Therefore, the school constantly seeks to adapt to the needs and expectations of students by offering them stimulating learning tools.

Various Elevations in Roof Design

Like many rooftops, the Louis-Joseph-Papineau high school has multiple elevations in their design/layout. When 3rd party contractors and maintenance teams were looking to access the roof section that houses the school’s gym, easy and safe access to that elevated section wasn’t available. The roofing contractor, who had previously worked with Skyline Group on various projects, inquired about our line of aluminum roof access ladders.

Safe Roof Access with an Aluminum modular Ladder

The height safety specialists at Skyline Group reviewed the building designs and recommended a modular aluminum roof access ladder to ensure a safe and compliant climb to the rooftop. The specified solution met both the contractor’s and the school’s requirements.

  • Surpassed both national and local safety standards and regulations.
  • Its aluminum structure and modular design made installation quick and easy.
  • The aluminum material ensured that the ladder would remain looking new for years to come. In addition, unlike a steel ladder, an aluminum ladder doesn’t require maintenance to ensure its coating remains intact. Contemplating selecting an aluminum roof access ladder versus a steel roof access ladder?
  • The ladder platform adds a layer of safety when stepping off the ladder, with the guardrails creating a safe perimeter to ensure a firm footing.
  • The ladder and its components were stocked in our Ontario warehouse, making a quick turnaround possible. In addition, with the ladder and its components being manufactured in aluminum, there was no need to delay the delivery to have the ladder coated or painted with a protective layer.

Commercial Building Looking For Interior Access to The Rooftop

The Challenge

Utilizing a portable step ladder or extension ladder to climb through the hatch is simply not a long-term solution, or safe means of gaining access to the rooftop. It is important to ensure the user can maintain three points of contact throughout their climb, ensuring a safe and compliant working environment.

The Solution

For this roof safety project, the site’s small footprint made a standard fixed hatch ladder the clear option. After reviewing modular and fully welded steel options, the property manager selected the Skyline 7001 series hatch ladder system.

Gaining Interior Access to the Rooftop

The architect designing this commercial building in Montreal attended one of our complimentary lunch and learn sessions. The main objective of their learning session was to review common hazards in climbing to a sloped rooftop.

Contractors and building personnel requiring access to the rooftop are using a portable step ladder or extension ladder to climb through the roof hatch from the top floor. The architect and building owners wanted to create a safe and compliant means of accessing the roof via the hatch opening. There is a fixed outdoor caged wall ladder on the side of the building, although this solution wasn’t always an option during the winter months, as it would pose a potential fall risk. 

Why Install an Interior Roof Hatch Ladder

Installing a roof access hatch with a fixed ladder allows contractors and maintenance personnel easy access to the roof of the building. Ultimately, eliminating the safety risks that come with climbing an exterior wall ladder. Unlike outdoor roof access ladders, interior hatch ladders require little to no maintenance, while maintaining 24/7 restricted access to the rooftop.

Primarily utilizing a portable ladder to climb through the hatch is not a long-term solution, as it would result in personnel not maintaining three points of contact throughout their climb. It was also a dangerous solution, posing a fall risk when climbing up the portable ladder and stepping off it with equipment in hand.

Why Select a Modular Aluminum Hatch Ladder on Your Next Roof Access Project

For this roof safety project, the site’s small footprint made a standard fixed hatch ladder the clear option.

After reviewing modular and fully welded steel options, the property manager selected the Skyline 7001 series hatch ladder system. Both steel and aluminum hatch ladders would be compliant and offer safe access to the rooftop, although Skyline Group’s aluminum modular hatch ladders provided more than just roof safety compliance.

  • Its design allowed for flexibility, making it easy to install stiles in order to help in climbing out of the hatch onto the rooftop. These extensions/stiles extend past the roof hatch door, ensuring three points of contact and a handle to grab onto while stepping off the last step of the fixed hatch ladder onto the rooftop.
  • When compared to a welded or steel option, the aluminum ladder was easy to transport to the top floor and rooftop.
  • An easy and quick installation helped in reducing labour costs and overall budget requirements.
  • The serrated rungs ensure a safe climb every time.
  • Its aluminum finish keeps the ladder looking new, as it is located in an area that will receive a lot of employee foot traffic. In addition, unlike steel ladders, no maintenance is required over time to keep the aluminum ladder looking new. 

Looking to understand how you can ensure safe rooftop access? Connect with our team of safety specialists today to learn more about the hazards that are present on your rooftop.

Starbucks Creates Safe Roof Access with a Modular Aluminum Ladder

The Challenge

Starbucks was in the midst of opening a new location in Orilia, Ontario, when they noticed that the building drawings were missing a safe means of accessing the rooftop from the outside of the building.

The Solution

The height safety specialists at Skyline Group reviewed the building designs and recommended a modular aluminum cage ladder that would ensure a safe and compliant climb to the rooftop.

Starbucks Creates Safe Roof Access with a Modular Aluminum Ladder

BRINGING ROOF SAFETY TO NEW HEIGHTS​

Starbucks was in the midst of opening a new location in Orilia, Ontario, when they noticed that the building drawings were missing a safe means of accessing the rooftop from the outside of the building. Starbucks reached out to the Skyline team to get an understanding of how they can go about ensuring safe roof access. Due to the new building being ready any day now, Starbucks required a solution that would be easy to install with a quick turnaround time from design to delivery.

Why Use a Modular Aluminum Roof Access Ladder

The height safety specialists at Skyline Group reviewed the building designs and recommended a modular aluminum cage ladder that would ensure a safe and compliant climb to the rooftop. The solution checked all of their boxes.

  • Surpassed both national and local safety standards and regulations.
  • Its aluminum structure and modular design made installation quick and easy.
  • The aluminum material ensured that the ladder would remain looking new for years to come and protect it from rusting. Unlike a steel ladder, an aluminum ladder doesn’t require maintenance to ensure its coating remains intact. Contemplating selecting an aluminum roof access ladder versus a steel roof access ladder?
  • The ladder cage adds a layer of safety when climbing, with the integrated platform and guardrail providing a safe means of stepping off the ladder onto the rooftop.
  • It is not compliant or recommended to cut your ladder short, in order to restrict public access. This is why a lockable cage door was integrated into the design, this is common around buildings that have a lot of pedestrian foot traffic.
  • The ladder and its components were all stocked in our Ontario warehouse, making a quick turnaround possible. With the ladder and its components being manufactured in aluminum, there was no need to delay the delivery in order to have the unit coated or painted.

Restricting Roof Access to The Public

During our discussions with Starbucks, they were looking to ensure that once on the roof there would be a safe means of stepping off the ladder onto the small rooftop. Due to the size of the rooftop you are always close to the edge of the roof, especially when stepping off of the ladder. This is why a walkway and guardrail system was integrated into the design of the ladder, ensuring the user would have a safe passage away from the edge of the ladder and roof. They also wanted to ensure that access to the ladder was restricted to only those employees or service personnel that were approved to be on the roof. As a result, Skyline introduced a lockable cage gate to the design, to restrict any unwanted access to the rooftop while still ensuring the ladder met local safety guidelines.

Rooftop Safety Trends – Raising the Bar on Rooftop Safety Compliance

Canadian Roofing Contractors Association interviewed Vernon Ghinn, our VP of roof safety specialists, to chat about the future of height safety and its impact on regulations.

Here is a list of ROOFTOP SAFETY TRENDS

BUILDING DESIGN

The building design process includes many considerations for serving the occupants working or living within it. And often, the technology required to optimize the building’s safety, comfort, and efficiency end up being installed on the roof. These components may be necessary, but any piece of equipment added to the rooftop poses a degree of risk for those who may need to work in that space. And with rooftop footprints and configurations in constant flux, safety considerations cannot fall through the cracks.

“Like every building component, roof footprint, features, and conditions can evolve; these changes can introduce challenges with accessing equipment,” says Vernon Ghinn, a roof access and safety specialist at Skyline Group. “That’s why rooftop safety isn’t a set it and forget it responsibility; it is something that should be reviewed and improved upon quarterly to ensure you’re staying in compliance and keeping everyone safe.”

EVOLVING Roof HAZARDS

Working at height comes with numerous risks. More and more, those risks include having to navigate access points (e.g., ladders or hatches) or rooftop equipment (e.g., HVAC systems, ducts, solar panels) that have been installed throughout the roof and – more frequently – near roof edges.

For example, says Ghinn, “At times, rooftop units are installed at the edge because that happens to be the quickest and easiest location for the installers to place the unit. However, the challenge lies in servicing those units, as a safety solution will be required to create a safe perimeter and working environment.”

Roofing layouts can also pose risks. For instance, flat industrial and commercial roofs can become slippery to walk on when wet depending on the roofing membrane.
Added to these traditional hazards are the ones that appear over time. For example, building upgrades that affect the roof structure and design can also impact its elevations, requiring new roof safety equipment and considerations.

“That’s why it is important to understand the future state of your roof and how the roof is being accessed,” says another safety rep with Skyline. “Corridors are provided inside the building for safe access, so the same consideration should be given to the safety personnel required to keep the building running while accessing the roof.”

Another trend impacting roof safety is that rooftops are becoming more crowded. As land prices rise and available space in populated areas decreases, organizations optimize their investment by making use of their open space. Some of that focus is being turned to rooftops, where building operators turn their rooftop into a publicly accessed area (e.g., a garden or patio) or invest in energy-efficient technologies (e.g., green roofs or solar panels). The result is a very busy environment that requires safer access to all roof areas and increased awareness of common rooftop safety hazards.

“Ultimately, it is important that your roof access and safety solutions stay up to speed with your roof as it goes through different transformations,” adds a Skyline rep.

Roof Guardrail

STAYING COMPLIANT AMIDST REGULATION CHANGES

As building envelopes adapt, so do safety compliance obligations. This is also true of roof and height safety standards, which are constantly adapting to reflect emerging hazards.

“The number of roof fall-related injuries is alarming, so it’s only natural that local and national standards are getting stricter,” says the Skyline safety rep, explaining, “Today, more and more third-party service providers have their own safety guidelines that prevent employees from working on roofs unless the right safety equipment and protocols are in place.”

Aligning with such standards is a critical challenge, especially since failing to keep a building compliant or ensure an installation meets local safety guidelines can lead to severe injuries and costly liabilities. As such, it’s important to recognize hazards as they emerge and never lose sight of one’s safety responsibilities.

“It’s about accessing the roof safely, while working in a hazard-free environment, in order to get back down from the roof safely,” says Ghinn, adding, “The fact is that the number of roof fall-related injuries is alarming, meaning there is room to improve on safety. The good news, though, is that the risks we’re seeing out there today can be mitigated with the right partners and height safety solutions that are readily available.”

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE WITH THE RIGHT SAFETY EQUIPMENT

No doubt, modern rooftop hazards require modern safety solutions. For example, says the Skyline rep: “We see too many access ladders that are cut short at the bottom, requiring an extension ladder to gain access to the actual roof access ladder itself. This is often done to restrict roof ladder access to the public, but climbing a small ladder to grab the roof access ladder and then climb onto it is simply dangerous. That’s why we developed a lockable gate to block the first five-plus feet of steps and restrict unwanted access.”

The ability to manufacture ladders, guardrails, roof catwalks, and various other rooftop safety solutions in modular sections is also beneficial for today’s contractors. These solutions can be transported to the roof via a service elevator versus renting a crane, while also being installed in a fraction of the time. All while offering the capability to customize a solution that best fits the needs of the roof and local guidelines.

“The savings become quite substantial for all parties,” says Skyline’s rep, explaining, “Our non-penetrating permanent guardrail system, for example, is designed to be modular, making it quick and simple to install without needing to fasten into the existing roof frame. This eliminates the need to reseal the roof membrane for old or newly warranted roofs after an installation.”

Protecting workers and staying in compliance means understanding your rooftop hazards before heading up onto the roof, while having a solution in place to mitigate the risks as they unfold. After all, adds Ghinn, “Nobody should discover safety by accident.”

Roof Guardrail

Steel Access Ladders vs Aluminum Access Ladders – Which is Better

The question around purchasing a steel or aluminum roof access ladder is a common one. Let’s look at the differences between the two materials as it relates to safety & compliance, lead time, installation process, costs, durability and climbing experience.

Roof Safety & Compliance

From a compliance standpoint, you are indeed still in compliance with either an aluminum or steel roof access ladder. If it is constructed in the manner stated by your local safety guidelines and includes corrosion-resistant protection (applicable to only steel ladders), your roof ladder should be compliant. When it comes to aluminum access ladders there is no need to worry about including a protective film, as the material itself is corrosion resistant. You also won’t need to maintain an aluminum ladder over the years by reapplying that protective layer/paint, as you would for a steel ladder.

Unsure if your roof meets local height safety requirements? Ask about our complimentary roof hazard audit program.

Lead Times

Lead times vary for both steel and aluminum ladders, although because steel ladders require a protective coating, it isn’t uncommon to see longer lead times. The added protective coating process will extend the lead time of your order, making it difficult for a quick turnaround when an urgent safety solution is required.

Installation

Have you ever worked with aluminum? Your local contractor may prefer a commercial aluminum roof access ladder because of the following reasons.

  • An aluminum ladder can easily be brought to the roof via the maintenance elevator as it is extremely lightweight. There is no need to rent a crane to transport your materials to the roof, or close roads and your building’s parking area. Ultimately, drastically reducing transport and installation-related costs.
  • With aluminum being much lighter than steel, it makes the installation process that much easier and quicker, requiring less labor hours. Yielding reduced overall installation costs.
  • Aluminum fixed ladders also subject less load to the wall and roof surface. A steel roof ladder may require the surface it is being fixed to, to be reinforced.
  • Cutting aluminum on-site, in order to ensure an exact fit, is quick & easy.

At Skyline our aluminum access ladders are built in modular sections, making it extremely easy to handle, ship and install on-site. If repairs are required you can easily replace the modular piece versus the whole ladder.

Durability & Maintenance

Due to steel ladders being heavier than aluminum ladders, there is a perception that they are much more rugged. This is somewhat true, generally, a steel roof access ladder will better handle a transport truck backing into it. But keep in mind, for what the ladder is intended to be used for, there is no real need for such a heavy and rugged solution. Their weight is also considered to be a major disadvantage. In order to install steel ladders and move them around the roof, you’ll have to recruit help. Or rent a costly crane to bring the material to the roof.

We also tend to forget that steel ladders require routine maintenance. In order for a steel rooftop access ladder to stay looking brand new and keep its integrity, it needs to be maintained regularly. Outdoor ladders are subject to corrosive environments, think about the winter conditions we experience in Canada. As a result, building owners and facility maintenance teams do not want to deal with the yearly required maintenance to upkeep the protective paint and coating on a steel ladder.

Climbing Experience

We often find that fixed steel ladders are supplied with 1/4 inch rungs, offering limited traction (especially during rain and snow), resulting in an uncomfortable climb. Our aluminum ladders are manufactured with a wide profile serrated rung, making your climb to the roof comfortable and safer with the added grippy surface.

Aluminum vs Steel – Which Is Better?

If we look at which ladder is safer, well both materials would be considered safe, assuming they are designed to meet your local safety guidelines. Both ladder types offer an excellent solution for accessing your roof. That being said, you are most likely reading this article because you are looking for a solution to not just get the job done but meet compliance requirements today and tomorrow in a cost-effective manner.

Here at Skyline we are roof safety specialists that focus on aluminum ladders due to their ease of installation, flexibility in design, and overall reduced costs in installation and maintenance. When considering the above categories, it is the material that excels in each category.

Working on an industrial or commercial roof project? Or looking to schedule a complimentary rooftop safety lunch & learn for your team? Call our team of rooftop safety experts to help navigate our array of aluminum ladder configurations.

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