With the fall season bringing an increased falling of leaves, heavier rainfall and higher levels of dew, property managers face a distinct rooftop safety challenge that often goes unnoticed – slippery surfaces. In the latest learning resource from Skyline Group, we explore how building operators can take steps to protect workers at height throughout this season.
The arrival of fall ushers in a unique set of environmental factors that can turn even the most well-maintained rooftops into treacherous terrain for workers at height. For property managers, the responsibility to protect these workers extends far beyond mere compliance with safety regulations. It’s a moral obligation and a commitment to safeguard the lives of those who inhabit and visit their properties.
A Season of Change, a Season of Risk
It is an unfortunate fact that slippery surfaces are a major occupational hazard for workers at height. It is also a fact that these are some of the most common and preventable causes of workplace accidents. In Ontario alone, each year more than 20% of lost time injuries to City employees are due to slips, trips and falls. Indeed, while injuries keep occuring, the figures keep rising.
With rooftop workers and other workers at height continuing to face a disproportionate level of risk during fall, how can property managers and building operators take real, meaningful steps to drive positive change? Let’s take a closer look…
Understanding how Roof Slope & Material can Increase Injury
One of the key factors in addressing slippery surfaces during the fall season is understanding the roof’s slope and material. A flat roof may accumulate more leaves and moisture, creating an increased risk of slips and falls. In contrast, a sloped roof might shed leaves more efficiently but presents its own set of challenges, especially near the edges.
Whilst there are several steps property managers can take to mitigate these risks, we’ve identified some of the essentials:
- Drainage systems: Property managers can consider the installation of proper drainage systems to prevent water from pooling and leaves from accumulating.
- Material choice: Employing slip-resistant roofing materials, which offer enhanced grip even in wet conditions, is a wise choice. The surface your workers walk on should be viewed as a first-line of defence and warrants some genuine consideration.
- Slope protection: Understanding the slope of the roof is critical when designing safe access pathways and guardrail systems. Skyline Group offers a range of guardrails and barriers that can be customized to fit various roof configurations, ensuring safety while navigating slopes and edges.
The Significance of Roof Elevation
Rooftops often feature diverse elevations, creating potential tripping hazards and unstable surfaces. This risk is, of course, increased due to the seasonal risks brought about by fall, including fallen leaves, rain and dew. This is especially true when workers need to access different areas frequently or in locations with high foot traffic.
Here at Skyline Group, it is our view that safe pathways, guardrails, and proper signage become essential in such scenarios. Property managers can utilize walkways, crossover bridges and platforms to establish secure routes for workers. These pathways are designed to offer stability and traction, even during harsh weather.
By strategically placing these safety features, property managers can help workers navigate complex roof layouts with ease, reducing the risk of accidents caused by uneven surfaces or unexpected elevation changes.
Create a Culture of Safety
Beyond equipment and techniques, fostering a culture of safety is essential, particularly in the fall season. Below are some steps property managers can take to build a culture of safety:
- Open communication: Property managers should encourage open communication about safety concerns and near misses. Regular safety training and reminders can reinforce safe climbing practices among workers.
- Climbing techniques: Workers should be trained in safe climbing techniques, emphasizing the importance of maintaining three points of contact at all times. This means having two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand, in contact with the ladder or roof surface. Climbing should be deliberate and controlled, avoiding sudden movements or overreaching.
- Training and certification: Ensure that workers are adequately trained and certified in ladder safety and rooftop access. Training programs should cover ladder usage, fall protection, hazard identification and emergency procedures.
Invest in Safety Infrastructure
Investing in the right safety infrastructure is crucial for addressing slippery surfaces in the fall season. Whilst provincial legislation varies in regards to stating what infrastructure is essential, we recommend guardrails and barriers thanks to their ability to create a protective perimeter. These installations are particularly effective in preventing accidental slips and falls near the roof’s edge, particularly when leaves and rain create hazardous conditions.
Properly designed guardrails are self-ballasted or anchored securely to the rooftop, ensuring stability and durability. Additionally, using brightly colored or reflective signage enhances visibility and reduces the likelihood of accidents.
Aside from guardrails and barriers, access ladders can play a significant role in addressing the slippery surfaces of fall. Access ladder rungs should feature anti-slip surfaces. These rungs are designed to provide workers with enhanced grip, even in wet or slippery conditions caused by fall foliage or rain. Additionally, safety cages can act as a protective barrier, preventing accidental falls and ensuring that workers maintain three points of contact during ascent or descent. At Skyline we like the use of lifeline ladders as they restrict you from falling, versus the barrier a caged ladder provides.
What safety features your rooftop needs depends on its layout and the range of operations that will be conducted. That’s where Skyline’s Rooftop Hazard Review Program comes in.
Conduct a Safety Review Analysis
Fall may bring added safety hazards, but it also presents opportunities. This season typically marks the off-peak period for most commercial buildings, making it the perfect time to conduct a comprehensive safety review. With Skyline Group as your partner, property managers can transform the challenges of fall into an opportunity to fortify their rooftop safety measures.
Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect when partnering with us:
- On-site hazard assessment: Before our roof safety specialist arrives on-site, they will conduct a thorough review of your specific hazard requirements to ensure a streamlined assessment process. The duration of this assessment varies depending on the size and layout of your roof but typically spans from a few hours to half a day.
- Hazard review report: This comprehensive report will include a detailed list of identified fall hazards, an overview of relevant regulations and standards that may be impacted, and expert recommendations for implementing safety solutions. To complement these insights, we provide a visual reference with photographs capturing various areas on your roof.
- Safety and compliance made simple: The hazard review report isn’t just a document; it’s your essential guide to minimizing the risk of injuries on your rooftop. It outlines recommended actions for mitigating identified hazards, facilitating compliance with both federal and provincial safety regulations. Additionally, it serves as a valuable record for your yearly inspections, ensuring that your rooftop consistently adheres to the highest safety standards.
Stand Up for Workers at Height This Fall with Skyline Group
The arrival of fall should serve as a reminder to property managers that protecting against slippery surfaces is a safety essential. By proactively addressing these challenges and leveraging the expertise of Skyline Group, property managers can uphold their commitment to safety. Get started to creating a safer tomorrow, today! Contact us.