What Can You Gain from a Rooftop Fall Hazard Assessment and Engineering Site Visit?

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Chased by a relentless posse in the iconic movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Butch (Paul Newman) and Sundance (Robert Redford) flee to the edge of a cliff above boiling rapids. Their only hope is to leap into the water, but Sundance protests.

“I can’t swim.”

Cassidy’s chuckle becomes a rousing laugh, “Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you!”

For facility and safety managers who feel they are drowning in a sea of danger—the roof edge being the clearest—a comprehensive fall hazard assessment and engineering site visit are crucial to identifying, understanding, and mitigating these risks and ensuring regulatory compliance.

Recognize the risks through a hazard assessment.

A hazard assessment—also known as a safety audit—finds areas where employees work at heights, assesses the frequency and duration of tasks performed at these heights, and considers the unique characteristics of the building and its operations.

A) Different Strokes: Distinct industries have their own needs. For example, a manufacturing plant may have tall machinery to service within the interior of a building, fleet operations will have large vehicles that need to be reached from atop, and distribution centers will have countless racks and shelves stocked high with inventory.

B) Common Ground: However, these and other commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings with flat or low-slope roofs often locate heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), and other equipment on their rooftops. Routine inspections, maintenance, and repairs require workers to access the roof and equipment, exposing them to fall hazards.

As highlighted, the roof’s perimeter stands out as the primary risk for workers during construction and upkeep on rooftops. Yet, it is crucial to realize that there are other hazards. All entryways to the roof (such as hatches and ladders) and roof openings (skylights) must be examined, as well as potential obstacles like ducts, cables, piping, or elevation changes that require navigation. Additionally, it considers weather-related risks such as standing water, susceptibility to strong winds, and various other factors.

At its conclusion, a hazard assessment should provide comprehensive documentation of all findings supplemented by a layout with photos, sketches, and CAD drawings as needed. It will propose fall protection measures and specify how they meet OSHA and ANSI requirements.

Engineered solutions follow the engineering site visit.

Engineering site visits complement hazard assessments by collaborating with employers to implement compliant fall protection solutions. This process encompasses three key phases: conceptualization, design, and implementation for rooftop fall protection. It involves analyzing structural integrity, refining solutions, and ensuring proper installation and training.

Although engineering sounds technical, an engineering site visit is heavily dependent on interaction and problem-solving with the building and business stakeholders. Nevertheless, the solutions should follow safety regulations.

Compliance with ANSI standards for fall protection.

Employers and safety professionals must adhere to ANSI Z359.2-2007, which outlines strategies for controlling fall hazards. ANSI distinguishes between “passive fall protection” measures, such as roof edge guardrails, and “active fall protection” methods, like personal protective equipment. It further categorizes fall prevention into fall restraint, which prevents workers from reaching hazardous areas, and fall arrest, which stops falls once they occur.

Take the next step for safety.

If you’re responsible for fall protection at your facility, contact Safeguard Industries. Our services include a discussion and evaluation of your needs and concerns about regulatory compliance, a site visit to conduct a safety audit, and developing a plan of action. Our services can include as little or as much as you need, from design, engineering, and fabrication to installation, training, and other support. Don’t wait until an accident happens. Contact us to safeguard your workplace and protect your employees from fall hazards.

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