The hidden danger of unprotected skylights was once again highlighted when a roof worker for the Lundy Company — which runs Lundy Island — fell through an eleven-foot high skylight.
The consequences for the worker were dire as he sustained a broken shoulder, head injury, a partially collapsed lung and three broken ribs. He had to spend three days in hospital and was consequently forced to be off work for 18 months. The fall continues to impact the lifestyle decisions he makes today.
According to the North Devon Gazette, the company hired a contractor to work on the roof, without checking if it would be carried out safely The company was fined £30,000 for failing to meet safety standards and the contractor received a six-month jail sentence.
One of the biggest culprits when it comes to falls from height is unprotected skylights. It is understandable that we assume that a skylight is safe. However, the reality is not always the case. In fact, even on new building constructions, where skylights are actually rated as “man-safe”, weather effects and UV can damage the layers of protection and cause the skylights to become brittle quickly. Many times, the dangers of falling through skylights are overlooked in favour of the bigger threat of the roof edge.
Whether you are a contractor or property owner, it is in your own interest to mitigate the dangers of falling through skylights. The first step to prevent dangerous falls through skylights is to not overlook the dangers.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the UK body responsible for regulating safety in the workplace, says protection against falls is required wherever anyone works on or near fragile materials. Suitable protection will normally include a combination of coverings, guard rails, safety nets, and safety harnesses.
Simply walking across the roof sheets should NEVER be allowed
It is possible to install skylight protection covers, which protect fragile skylights so that workers can walk safely near them. They may also be used in conjunction with roof walkways, which ensure that, if a worker falls sideways from a walkway, they will not pass through fragile skylights.
High Access Solutions’ skylight covers are available made from 100% recycled HDPE (High-density polyethylene ) and aluminium. They accommodate all roof types and pitches and can be fixed or freestanding for use on membrane, bitumen, green, fragile roofs and trapezoidal roofs.
Freestanding guardrails can prevent workers from accidentally stepping on a skylight and are an ideal solution. These guardrails can be used for skylights in all shapes and sizes and is particularly cost-effective if you are working on a roof with multiple skylights, as a single rail system can secure all of them at the same time.
High Access Solutions’ Roof Guardrail systems meet all current legislative requirements, are lightweight, free-standing and could be the perfect solution for your collective fall protection requirements.
In other situations, you might actually want to work on the skylights themselves, for example, for maintenance purposes. In this case, skylight covers or guardrails won’t be suitable, as they will block your access. Workers can safely access the skylights for maintenance or replacement when anchored onto a roof lifeline cable system.
A single system can be used for work on an entire series of skylights. In fact, a single lifeline can be used to protect workers against several dangers along its route.
Benefits of using roof safety cable systems include:
Roofs are often home to a number of fall hazards, with the hidden dangers of fragile skylights playing a large role in causing injury or even death. Remember that you carry full responsibility for your employees and contractors. It’s vital you ensure you have a comprehensive solution that accounts for all potential fall hazards and has both preventative and protective measures in place.
If you are looking for a comprehensive roof-safety solution, you need to consider the many fall hazards and consult the experts. High Access Solutions can ensure all areas are covered in a cost-efficient manner.
Contact us today on 0114 242 4811.Back to blog