Did you know that falls are the leading cause of work-related deaths and injuries among construction workers or roofers? Because of this, construction workers have been given a lot of importance and need to adhere to the stricter rules imposed by the OSHA and International Code Council (ICC).
The regulations of both agencies revolve around guardrail and fall protection requirements. Implementing safety measures in both guardrails and fall protection can aid construction workers and ensure that they are acting in accordance with all the right procedures.
These measures avoid any possible accidents that can lead to severe injuries or even death. With this, any person, whether it be someone who’s working on the site or a visitor, will be in a secure environment.
Why Should a Roof Railing System be Implemented?
There are a few reasons why a roof railing system is an important feature on a construction site or when implementing building safety. The most common reasons are:
Requires Fewer Workers On-Site
One significant benefit of having a reliable roof railing system is that it allows one worker to go to the roof alone. Thus, it eliminates the need for the buddy system.
Such a system requires less number of people to be present on-site at any time. Despite this, many companies still encourage two workers to be on-site together. However, it also relies on the imposed safety plans on the site.
Prevents Falls and Accidents
Before starting a construction project, one of the things you need to find out is if guardrails are needed in a building. The purpose of a roof railing system is to prevent unauthorized access to some areas that may lead to devastating accidents.
In general, this equipment is required when the building has accessible roof spaces, platforms, landings, or steps. In fact, according to the standardized code, a roof railing system is necessary when there’s a difference of at least thirty inches between two lower or upper surfaces.
The requirements OSHA implemented for this equipment are quite strict. Whether your profession falls under the general industry category or you’re in the construction industry, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide or hand out safety measures to protect workers from falls in the workplace.
Moreover, if, for example, the work area is at least six feet higher or six feet lower than the ground level (well or pit), a guardrail or roof railing system should be put in place.
Factors to Consider Before Installing a Roof Railing System
As an employer, you can’t just put whatever guardrail you think would work. There are things that you have to take into consideration before having one installed, such as:
Penetrating vs. Non-Penetrating
If you don’t want to go through all the struggles and difficulties of training all your workers on the site about the safety lanyards, consider installing guardrails. Although it might feel like a reckless decision regarding health and safety work, it could save you time, effort, and money.
One vital factor to consider when deciding to switch to a roof railing system is whether to choose a system that is non-penetrating or not. The difference between the two is that a penetrating system has holes and needs to be drilled into the roof.
On the other hand, a non-penetrating system, like the AccuFit Flat Roof Railing System, is installed with weighted bases. If you are looking for something temporary that can keep your workers safe and protected, this is your best option (it can also be removed when necessary).
After understanding the responsibility and liability you have as an employer to ensure your worker’s safety, the next thing you should do is to get a guardrail properly installed. The equipment should be 42 inches or more than above the ground level area.
When it comes to the roof area, the International Building Code requires a guardrail installed, unless there’s a fall protection system in place. Moreover, OSHA does not prescribe installation criteria or quality control for guardrails.
However, it does specify that any worker on-site could be protected from falling with a roof railing system. If, for instance, it is not feasible to utilize guardrails on the building, consider using a personal fall arrest system. Other kinds of fall protection solutions imposed by OSHA include warning systems, monitoring devices, and safety nets.
Another important thing to consider is the load level of a fall protection setup or a guardrail system. The IBC describes the strength of a guardrail by its structural load capability. Structural load capacity is the capability of the equipment to withstand or hold off various actions and forces that can cause stress or strain on the design.
If, for instance, the guardrail is not up to par for structural load capacity, then it could break or fail, and it could leave a person in a very dangerous situation. Moreover, the IBC states that guardrails should be able to withstand at least fifty pounds per linear foot.
Additionally, the equipment should be able to handle at least two hundred pounds of concentrated force. These standards prove that the guardrail is tenacious enough to be a secure barrier between a steep drop and an individual that could potentially cause serious injuries or death.
On the other hand, OSHA has the same definition in its documentation in regards to the minimum strength requirement of a guardrail. It states that the equipment should be able to withstand two hundred pounds of pressure when enforced to the building or structure.
This requirement is imperative for workers due to the constant depletion or erosion a guardrail might go through in a hectic industrial setting. To sum it up, your equipment should be stable and strong enough to provide proper protection.
As an employer, you need to provide the proper fall protection system, such as a guardrail or a roof railing system, to avoid any hazardous accidents on-site. If you don’t follow the standards and rules imposed by the IBC or OSHA, you are putting your workers and yourself at great risk. Your business might also suffer and won’t stay in the industry for long because of the increased safety risks and possible fines due to negligence.
Richard Perkins is a freelance writer and contributor based in Oakland, California. Since he was young, he had shown great interest in industrial tech and made it his life goal to be part of the industry. Richard might have been writing for five years now, but he still has a lot of knowledge he wants to share with the world.