Roof hatches are a popular feature on most large industrial roofing. They are imperative for employees and maintenance teams to access any industrial components or facility on the rooftop, like smoke vents roof hatches. The main reason for installing roof hatches is to provide safe access and security to the building. One of the safety risks involving roof hatches that the building managers will sometimes overlook is the fall hazard. Fall hazards are a constant risk among workers accessing the rooftop, making managing fall protection in roof hatches for those industrial facilities an analytically important job.
There is much to think about when it comes to fall protection safety management around the roof hatch. Here are some safety tips when accessing the roof hatches to protect the employees and improve safety records.
Close The Hatch
It might seem self-evident but closing the hatch is something that most workers often forget, especially when they hurry or have tools or equipment in their hands. Shutting the roof hatch door is the simplest way to minimize the chance of a worker equipment tool and materials will accidentally fall into the hatch going to the flooring below. A proper safety training of employees when accessing the roof hatch to put safety at the top of their mind and remind them that the fall protection of the roof hatch is everyone’s responsibility can help mitigate this risk. In addition, in roof hatches fall protection management, hatch doors must be marked clearly with either emblazoned or safety color coding with words cover or hole. All roof hatch doors must be fastened securely during the workers’ activity and must support twice the weight of the equipment, workers, and materials at any time. While keeping the door closed will prevent potential wind damage to the roof hatch access door.
Follow OSHA Guidelines When Accessing Roof Hatches
HVAC units or other operating facility systems are located mainly on rooftops that require periodic access of the employees to the roof hatch to conduct regular preventive maintenance and inspection on those systems. Usually, there are also times that maintenance will repair the roofing itself. It is a safety requirement for every facility manager to protect the workers who access the roof hatches every time they have activities on the rooftop.
The OSHA regulations require safety rails around the roof openings, whether a hole in the roof or a ladder entry. OSHA also requires that any roof hatch openings located 15 feet on the rooftop edge need rail guards against fall hazards, and the rails guard must be in 42 inches of the roof access base. Personal fall arrest or fall protection harness systems when it comes to roofing hatches openings. And the rail guards must have a smooth surface so that the workers will not sustain injuries when coming into contact with the safety rails. Proper rooftop safety openings often require a railing guard system and meet certain authorities or organizations’ specifications.
Incorporate Ladder Safety Post To Keep Balanced
Mostly a ladder safety post is a telescoping post that permanently attaches to the rungs of the fixed ladder of the roof hatches. This ladder post will provide a stable spot for the workers to hold when exiting or entering the hatch and ensure their bodies remain balanced and upright. Body stability is a vital factor in preventing fall hazards. Based on OSHA guidance, the ladder safety post must extend 42 inches above the hatch, the same as the requirement for rail guards to grant safe access to the roof.
Use The Right Fall Protection PPE
The adequate fall protection of the workers when accessing the roof depends on various factors like the slope of the roof, how the workers adhere to safety practices, and specific fall hazards. Ensuring that all workers have the necessary Personal Protective Equipment or PPE such as fall protection harness or fall arrest equipment and constantly checking if it is functioning well can help minimize the falling hazard.
Incorporate Self-Closing Gates To Safety Rails
Incorporating self-closing gates on the safety rails can add a safety factor. It is an excellent way to protect the worker from falling from the top of the entryway if the roof hatch door remains open during rooftop activity tasks.
Keep The Workers Properly Hydrated
To prevent the workers from passing out or having a hard time coming back down in the roof hatches, they need plenty of drinking water. According to OSHA, workers that perform roofing activity tasks should consume seven ounces of water every 15 minutes to keep them hydrated. And prioritize having plenty of drinking water within their easy reach. And during warmer months, workers should know how to recognize heat exhaustion to watch each other while doing some roof tasks. Ensuring that you have a good roof hatch in your building that meets its requirements is one of the safety factors to minimize hazards during roof access. And strictly following the safety practices and rules is the surest way to protect the workers from mishaps accidents during the entry and exit.