Rooftop Safety

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.

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. 

 

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.

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

An Upgraded HVAC System Requires Improved Rooftop Safety

The Challenge

There is a misconception at times that a smaller rooftop can be easier to maintain and gain safe access to. One challenge amongst all rooftops with a limited footprint is that many of the HVAC units, and other RTUs, are within 6 feet of the roof’s edge.

The Solution

The Trail office in British Columbia purchased two 5001 RoofBarrier systems; one straight 30-foot linear section with 4-foot outriggers and one 20’ x 25’ L section with 4-foot outriggers.

An Upgraded HVAC System Requires Improved Rooftop Safety

Safety Culture

TELUS is a dynamic, world-leading communications technology company providing wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video, and security services. Their long-standing commitment to putting customers first fuels every aspect of their business, making them distinct in customer service excellence and loyalty.

Requiring Safe Access to A Small Rooftop

There is a misconception at times that a smaller rooftop can be easier to maintain and gain safe access to. One challenge amongst all rooftops with a limited footprint is that many of the HVAC units, and other RTUs, are within 6 feet of the roof’s edge. Thus, requiring a permanent guardrail or barrier to be installed to prevent the risk of a height-related injury. With Telus looking to upgrade its HVAC system, an updated safety solution was required.
roofbarrier rooftop guardrail system

Improved Rooftop Safety With A Guardrail System

Due to our knowledge and experience in providing height safety solutions that meet the communication industry’s needs, our team of safety specialists were consulted. The Trail office in British Columbia purchased two 5001 RoofBarrier systems; one straight 30-foot linear section with 4-foot outriggers and one 20’ x 25’ L section with 4-foot outriggers. Here is what made our roof barrier and guardrail system the primary choice for this site.

 

  • The 5001 RoofBarrier is a modular solution, making it quick and easy to install and transport to the roof.
  • The safety guardrail is manufactured in galvanized steel, minimizing the risk of corrosion.
  • With our roof safety solutions being stocked and ready to ship, we were able to meet the contractor’s timeline to install the upgraded HVAC system.
  • Our non-penetrating self-ballasted solution meant that the roof membrane would not require repairs. On the other hand, with a fixed guardrail, once the installation is complete you need to re-seal the area to ensure there are no potential water leaks that were made by the screws and fasteners.

All in all our self-ballasted roof guardrail solution saved both the contractor and end-user time and money.

The Toronto Transit Commission Ensures Safe Access to Rooftop Units

The Challenge

The Toronto Transit Commission was looking to not only ensure rooftop safety compliance but take all safety precautions that would reduce the risk of a rooftop related injury.

The Solution

After a review of the rooftop access points and those rooftop units that require routine maintenance by the TTC. Skyline Group proposed a safety solution that ensured a safe walkway, including a guardrail system, manufactured in aluminum.

The Toronto Transit Commission Ensures Safe Access to Rooftop Units

Toronto Transit Commission

The Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC) assumed responsibility for municipal transit services in the City of Toronto on September 1, 1921. This began an era of consolidation and expansion that accompanied and accelerated the astonishing growth of Toronto as a city. The TTC has played an important role in Toronto’s past and as we look ahead, it is exciting to think about how they are shaping the city’s future.

ensuring roof safety & compliance

The Toronto Transit Commission was looking to not only ensure rooftop safety compliance but take all safety precautions that would reduce the risk of a rooftop related injury. With the TTC having a safety-first culture, they reached out to the Skyline Group after conducting a self-rooftop safety assessment to review various hazards and related height safety solutions. Today’s industrial and commercial rooftops can quickly become crowded with various units sitting on the roof. When reviewing rooftop safety concerns, safety personnel are looking at how an employee or third-party contractor would go about approaching such rooftop units safely, for routine inspection and maintenance. These units come in various sizes and as such can be covered by regular snowfall during Toronto’s winter months. As a result, it is important to ensure that there is safe passage in and around these units year-round, reducing the risk of someone tripping over a duct system or stepping into a snow-covered skylight. This is no different at the TTC facility. When reviewing their rooftop HVAC systems, Skyline was tasked to ensure safe passage to each system, while enabling the maintenance team to be safe while working at heights. The criteria to be met fell into two categories: compliance and design.

 

Compliance Requirements
  • Platforms, stairs and guardrails designed to comply with all applicable loads, including OBC Part 3, OBC Part 4 and OSHA Reg. 851 S.14.
  • Platforms and stairs designed for a concentrated live load capacity of 1.3 kN and distributed live load capacity of 1.5 kPa.
  • Guardrails designed for a concentrated live load capacity of 1.0kN, compliant with OBC 4.1.5.14(b).
  • Total dead load of system not to exceed 0.5 kPa.
  • Dead load (0.5 kPa) plus live load (1.5 kPa) of platforms, guardrails, and stairs onto existing roof not to exceed 2.0 kPa, unfactored.
  • Dead load plus live load (2.0 kPa) of platforms, stairs, and guardrails not to exceed a maximum concentrated load onto the existing roof of 1.3kN. Achieved by having support posts on 600mm centres, max.
Design Requirements
  • Customization capabilities as some of the rooftop units are not standard in size.
  • Modular in design and installation.
  • Lightweight while still being robust to support the load requirements.
  • A permanent walkway, guardrail, platform and crossover solution.
  • Made of long-lasting anti-corrosive material.
  • Must meet a strict and short delivery time.
Roof Guardrail
Safety Roof Ladder
Walkway with Guardrail

Making Roof Safety & Compliance Easy

After a review of the rooftop access points and those rooftop units that require routine maintenance by the TTC. Skyline Group proposed a safety solution that ensured a safe walkway, including a guardrail system, manufactured in aluminum. This reduced the chance of a slip during the winter months, while offering a safe and secure platform to work from. The high-quality aluminum also offered corrosion protection for 10+ years. A crossover solution helped the facilities maintenance team safely walk and work at heights while on the roof. With the height safety solution being modular and made of aluminum, the general contractor was able to transport the units with ease. The savings in labor alone reduced the budget requirements for installation, enabling the opportunity for the general contractor to work on other rooftop-related projects for the TTC. This customized roof safety solution was not only under budget, but met strict deadlines.

Mohawk College Solves Tomorrow’s Height Safety Concerns Today

The Challenge

With the solar panels covering much of the roof, personnel must walk within 6 feet of the roof’s edge to access multiple sections of the rooftop.

The Solution

The RoofBarrier 5001 series will meet the college’s growing rooftop safety needs, allowing for a flexible solution that will not penetrate the roof membrane.

Mohawk College Solves Tomorrow’s Height Safety Concerns Today

A Leader Among Ontario's Colleges

Mohawk College is a leader among Ontario’s colleges. Deeply rooted in the local community and the present demands, they have a global perspective that addresses the needs of the future. Transforming the educational experience is at the core of Mohawk! They have honed their expertise in the technologies shaping the world and building a better and more inclusive tomorrow — artificial intelligence, robotics, augmented and virtual reality, biotechnology, digital health and cybersecurity, to name a few. Students strive and grow with various applied learning opportunities facilitated both on and off campus. For example, the video you see below was created by Mohawk students looking to gain experience and get creative in showcasing their rooftop safety solutions.
 

As an inclusive college, Mohawk benefits from the diversity of thoughts, experiences, skills and talents of its students, faculty, staff, and administrators. They focus on creating an environment that reflects all identities, where every student belongs, is welcome and has a voice.

Solar Panel Safety

In the same manner that the Mohawk College is working towards finding creative ways to prepare their students for tomorrow’s needs, their facility maintenance team is constantly striving for improved safety for students, faculty, and service providers. With such a large rooftop, ensuring a safe environment is essential for the college. As the campus and facilities grow, the rooftop will tend to get busier with the latest technology to support the advancements impacting the students and staff.

Mohawk is the first Ontario college to get a STARS® Gold Rating for sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). This is partly due to the 100+ solar panels you will find on the college’s various rooftops. With the solar panels covering much of the roof, personnel must walk within 6 feet of the roof’s edge to access multiple sections of the rooftop. With the solar panels being so close to the roof’s edge, when maintenance is required, the working environment of the service personnel would pose a potential fall hazard. The facility maintenance team knew that anytime you are within 6 feet of a fall from a rooftop, you need a height safety solution.

Safety Roof Ladder

"I have worked with Skyline Group for a few years and have always had a great experience from working with the sales team to the team in production. The products have always been in stock and were ready to ship once the shop drawings were signed off. The safety guardrails are quick and easy to assemble."

Non-Penetrating Guardrail System

The facility maintenance team reached out to the rooftop safety specialists at Skyline Group to better understand their needs and the available solutions. The Mohawk team was looking for a solution that was:

  • Quick and easy to install
  • Stocked ready to ship
  • Non-penetrating, eliminating the need to penetrate the roof membrane, which would require further repairs and costs to reseal those areas of the roof.
  • Compliant with Ontario height safety regulations and standards
  • Protected against corrosion during the winter months

As a result, the Skyline Group recommended their RoofBarrier 5001 series, as it would meet the college’s growing rooftop safety needs.

 

Decommissioning of a Non-Compliant Access Ladder

The Challenge

The facility maintenance team at the Jubilee Plaza looked to access an elevated part of the roof. They noticed that the access ladder currently in place was no longer safe.

The Solution

The general contractor and facility maintenance team selected the 7002 series fixed aluminum ladders with a platform and handrail combination to create safe access to the roof.

Decommissioning of a Non-Compliant Access Ladder

Fort McMurray Jubilee Plaza

There’s something for everyone in the family at the Fort McMurray Jubilee Plaza. Located at the corner of Hardin Street and MacDonald Avenue, Jubilee Plaza is where people of all ages are encouraged to hang out, have fun and relax—designed as a year-round social gathering place, regardless of the season. As the seasons change, so do the activities, including markets, outdoor entertainment, public rallies, fitness-related activities, and various community events.

rooftop elevation

The facility maintenance team at the Jubilee Plaza looked to access an elevated part of the roof. They noticed that the access ladder currently in place was no longer safe. Over the years, the installed ladder had become rusted and, after its most recent safety review by the maintenance team, was deemed non-compliant.

For the maintenance team, this provided an opportunity to upgrade the ladder to better meet their needs. The retired ladder was currently located at the side of the building, requiring personnel to climb up from the pedestrian walkway from the ground level. Jubilee Plaza was looking to install the new ladder in a much more convenient part of the roof, near the main roof access point. To do so, they would need to consider the edge of the roof, slanted window and limited wall space that was available for the installation to take place.

The primary challenge for the Jubilee Plaza maintenance team was to have a custom access ladder solution shipped “yesterday,” as immediate rooftop access was required.

Rooftop Safety

Fixed Aluminum roof ladder

The general contractor working with Jubilee Plaza recommended our line of modular access ladders. The general contractor and facility maintenance team selected the 7002 series fixed aluminum ladders with a platform and handrail combination due to the following reasons.

  • The quick turnaround on design, quoting and delivery.
  • The capability to customize a solution that best meets the roof’s needs while remaining compliant with local safety guidelines.
  • The modular design of the ladder made it quick and easy to install and transport to the roof.
  • Non-corrosive aluminum material.
  • The design ensured that the access ladder and platform did not obstruct the large window and its view.
  • The perforated platform ensured year-round safe access.
Rooftop Safety
Before
Access Ladder
After

Keeping Maintenance Team Safe on A Sloped Commercial Roof

The Challenge

The rooftop units (RTUs) were built close to the roof edge of a sloped commercial rooftop. With the roof layout and slope, a safe environment to conduct maintenance wasn’t available to maintenance workers and contractors.

The Solution

Skyline Group’s solutions were specified due to their ease of installation and capabilities in customizing a solution that best meets the needs of the roof layout.

Keeping Maintenance Team Safe on A Sloped Commercial Roof

Thunderbay Retail Centre

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


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

Sloped Commercial Roof

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

Rooftop Safety

Roof Walkway Creates A Safe Pathway

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

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

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