You are visiting the United Kingdom Kee Safety website from United States. Would you like to go to the United States site?
“Up on the Roof,” written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, romanticises getting away from it all in a paradise that is “trouble-proof.” Yes, building owners, facility managers, and their maintenance and repair workers who must access the roof would agree that a trouble-proof roof is paradise. In the real world, though, there are several hazards on a typical commercial, institutional, or industrial rooftop, not the least of which is the roof edge.
A compliant guardrail system is the best roof edge protection solution for a flat or low-slope roof. It collectively protects multiple workers without needing special fall protection equipment or training. To meet UK building and safety regulations, the guardrail must consist of at least two horizontal rails, have a minimum height of 1100mm, and withstand a uniformly distributed load of 0.74kN per meter and a point load of 0.5kN.
What else should you consider when choosing a rooftop guardrail?
Although “Up on the Roof” is a pop tune, for roof fall protection, a metal guardrail system will best provide the strength and durability needed to meet British standards. Lightweight aluminium or galvanised steel are popular choices. Both types are corrosion-resistant and can be powder-coated for added visibility. Aluminium is looked upon as more aesthetic.
A modular, component-based guardrail that does not penetrate the roof membrane will conform to the roof layout and is easy to install. There is virtually no maintenance needed, and if the rooftop’s requirements change (e.g., an HVAC system is replaced or relocated), the system can be reconfigured.
For flat or low-sloped roofs accessed frequently and requiring a permanent solution, choose a roof edge guardrail system with an angled, cantilever design and counterbalanced weights.
In confined or narrow spaces, the same modular, component-based concept can be used; however, a roof guardrail system with upright posts and base weights that fit into the posts can accommodate such areas. This type of railing set is quick and easy to assemble and disassemble, so it is also ideal for temporary or infrequent work.
A standing seam and other metal roofs require a different way to secure the railings. A guardrail system with a galvanised base plate with multiple fixing centers will affix to metal roofs and provide compliant fall protection.
Perimeter guardrails are not the only areas of a rooftop where railings can protect workers. A roof walkway with guardrails provides an anti-slip walking surface along a delineated protected route.
Workers may also need to reach greater heights to service large equipment. Roof platforms, which incorporate modular railings and anti-slip steps and platforms, enable workers to perform their tasks with optimum fall protection.
A common way to enter and leave the roof is via a ladder system, where guardrails should be used for fall protection. For roof ladders, guardrails with extra support need to flank the ladder access point and be backed up with a self-closing safety gate.
Working on a roof is inherently dangerous, and building owners and employers are responsible for reducing the risk factors. When adequately protected by guardrails and related fall protection systems, workers performing their construction, maintenance, and repair tasks will sing out with praise.
A truly comprehensive rooftop safety solution follows the Hierarchy of Fall Protection. An expert starts by inspecting the roof site for potential fall hazards. From there, a complete system solution and recommendations are created that descend down the four levels of the hierarchy, from simple, sensible approaches for eliminating risks all the way down to lifesaving personal protection systems.
Collective Fall Protection Systems require no additional training to use. Work Restraint and Fall Arrest Systems both require a high level of user competency, training and additional inspection to be used properly.