Preventing falls through skylights
Falls from height, as its been highlighted repeatedly, is one of the biggest workplace killers. However people are still not clear on what their responsibilities are and why it is so important that they ensure that risks are minimised, however unlikely someone could access the roof and fall.
One of the biggest causes of serious injury as a result from falls from height, are usually down to unprotected skylights. We tend to look at a skylight and assume it is safe, trusting that is rated 'man safe'. Sometimes we even think that the installers would never install something that wouldn’t prevent a fall.
Even on new built constructions, where roof lights or skylights are deemed to be 'man-safe', it is not uncommon due to weather effects and UV damage that the layers of protection are affected, causing these to become brittle and rendering the overall protection ineffective incredibly quickly. Older installations of roof lights, a good example being the in-line type, that actually discolour to such a degree they blend in with the metal profiled roof are an even bigger concern and are commonly the highest risk of a fall from height.
Considering the danger and how often falls through roof lights occur, it is not uncommon for these risks to be overlooked in favour of what is perceived to be the bigger threat of the roof edge and for the building owner to not protect roof lights due to cost.
Options to protect roof lights are various physical protection such as our Kee Dome and Kee Dome Mini these are the most common, safest method of protection. Not only do they prevent against the possibility of a fall, but they visually highlight the danger, preventing users from assuming that the skylight is secure and putting themselves at risk.
Access control and fall arrest solutions can be effective methods but do not address the issue of unauthorised and untrained personnel gaining access to your roof.
Protesters, graffiti artists, thrill seekers, burglars and children are all potential risks that are outside of your control.
Even if you enforce restricted access, employ experienced individuals and ensure that you have clear demarked routes on your roof, accidents can still happen as in the case of this unfortunate case in America, the worker was a 25 year veteran roofer in a familiar environment and yet he still fell through an unprotected skylight.
It is not clear as to how the accident occurred, but the simple fact is that this regardless of whether the user misused the system, didn’t use safety equipment provided or was simply in an area he should not have been, this costly accident could have been avoided with the simple addition of a skylight barrier system such as Kee Dome.
One of the commonest problems with specifying this type of protection is finding an applicable European standard to apply. In the UK there is guidance in the form of the Advisory Committee for Roofing Red book but the question is does the industry and end user rely on ‘best practice’ or does this guidance need to be formalised and a standard created?