Railing System Provides Temporary Fall Protection

The Finnish company Alupro announces the immediate availability of the Parapet Bridge for the temporary fall protection AluFix EVO.

In 2015, Alupro successfully introduced the temporary fall protection railing system AluFix EVO for highly secure roof work.

The new Parapet Bridge serves as an additional, outer safety railing, with which the temporary fall protection AluFix EVO can be extended quickly, easily and tool-free. The Parapet Bridge creates additional freedom of movement, because it increases the available working space beyond the parapet. Without having to set up a scaffolding from the outside, e.g. work on the parapet cover can be performed with the proven counterweight system AluFix EVO. The fall protection railing is flexibly applicable up to a parapet thickness of 730 mm and allows safe working on levels up to a roof pitch of 10 degrees. The Parapet Bridge consists of a sturdy, high-quality aluminum construction, which is mounted to a continuous safety railing. The secure connection points consist of self-locking clamping mechanisms that enable tool-free installation.

The system extension Parapet Bridge as well as the basic system AluFix EVO according to EN13374-A has been successfully tested and equipped with the GS mark for proved safety.

New features of the Attika bridge for AluFix EVO:

  • Fast, easy and tool-free installation
  • Lightweight and stable construction made of high quality aluminum components
  • Can be used on levels up to 10-degree roof pitch
  • Additional, enlarged working space for attic covers
  • Variable adjustment of the attic width up to 730 mm
  • Tested to EN-13374-A GS seal of approval for tested safety

Proven features (AluFix EVO):

  • Simple, tool-free installation
  • Lightweight, highly stable aluminum construction
  • GS tested, meets safety standard EN 13374-A

AluFix EVO can simply be supplemented by existing customers with the Parapet Bridge and can be used for all roof variants up to a 10-degree inclination.

For more information, visit www.alupro.com.

Why Planning Ahead for Post-Roofing Fall Protection Matters

Incorporating permanent fall protection systems into the overall construction plan benefits workers during the initial construction phase and while conducting building maintenance. Photos: MSA, The Safety Company

The majority of new and existing buildings require safe access to the roof area for ongoing building maintenance, as well as to service equipment such as telecommunications masts, skylights, air conditioning units, elevator machinery, and PV panels.

As such, failing to plan is planning to fail—especially when it comes to incorporating fall protection systems into the design, construction, and maintenance of a facility.

Without question, construction is a high-hazard industry and worker safety is, of course, paramount. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) helps ensure workplace safety standards by requiring fall protection equipment, fall arrest systems, and fall protection training for workers at height in the construction industry.

And yet there are pervasive numbers of architects, builders, general contractors, and building owners who are simply unaware that incorporating fall protection systems into their overall construction plan is not only possible, but highly desirable—not just to the benefit of the construction worker or roofer, but also to the overall building aesthetics, as well as ease and safety of ongoing building maintenance.

When it comes to commercial and infrastructure construction, the most important safety concerns are prevention of fall- and falling object-related accidents. In fact, 100 percent of fall-related accidents are preventable; yet, statistics show that falls are the leading cause of construction-related deaths.

That’s why OSHA holds fall-prevention planning in such high regard, as evidenced by its Fall Prevention Campaign, which urges construction employers to “plan projects to ensure that the job is done safely,” including “how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task.”

Planning for, and incorporating, fall protection systems into the building design before construction offers these four key benefits:

  1. It allows for appropriate and proper safety equipment outfitting and training of the worker at height at all phases of construction and maintenance, giving building owners and facility managers peace of mind that maintenance staff have the safety systems they need to carry out their duties.
  2. It maintains the integrity of the original building design, giving architects more aesthetic control over the building.
  3. It saves the cost, confusion, and chaos of retrofitting buildings with OSHA-required at-height fall protection systems, allowing for the planning and implementation of high-quality, versatile systems.
  4. It protects roof structures from potential damage caused by post-construction add-on systems.

Mitigating Risk

From trips to slips, and from falls to fatalities, the most often cited OSHA fall-related violations involve skylights, steep-slope roofs, and unprotected edges.

To reduce risk, it is imperative to plan and implement a comprehensive, engineered fall protection system specific to the building design. Components may include such fall-protection products as:

  • Designated walkway systems
  • Energy-absorbing force posts
  • Engineered horizontal lifelines
  • Fall arrest systems and fall limiters
  • Fixed ladder fall protection
  • Guardrail systems
  • Hands-free anchors
  • Overhead protection systems
  • Safety net systems
  • Self-retracting lifelines
  • Vertical lifeline systems

Training everyone on the proper use of safety systems is a crucial part of the process. Remember, workers at height are always at risk of falling, and it’s your job to protect them. Early-stage planning helps make sure that the systems used are perfectly integrated into the building to not only protect the worker but also to seamlessly fit with the building design.

Best Practices

Here are some best practice recommendations when planning an engineered fall protection system:

  • Start early. Your in-house specification team should work with your solutions provider to assess your building’s unique installation requirements.
  • Design to requirements. Ask your solutions provider to design a system that meets both pre- and post-construction requirements. Stipulate that your provider help with CAD concepts, working drawings, and plans, as necessary.
  • Confirm the approach. Request a “checking service” to make sure that the recommended approach is the absolute best available for your particular application.
  • Ensure versatility. Since access requirements vary by build or retrofit, make sure your solutions provider has the ability to adapt to a wide range of roofing shapes, materials, and contours.
  • Confirm safe access post-construction. While construction-related safety is important, it’s also critical to ensure total safety for workers with a system that allows safe access to the finished roof.
  • Consider building aesthetics. Ask your safety solutions provider to consider form as well as function; namely the appearance of the building and surrounding areas. For example, components of safety systems, such as bodies and base plates of our posts, can be powder-coated to soften their appearance against the roofing material.

When specifying fall protection systems, make sure you consider all aspects of a well-engineered system, from quality, versatility and lifespan, to aesthetic appeal, teamwork, and innovation.

About the Author: Anne Osbourn is an Industrial Marketing Manager at MSA, The Safety Company, http://us.msasafety.com.

Security Bars Provide Fall Protection

Placing a fall protection device, like security bars, and leaving it for rooftop security will save contractors man-hours and liability.

Placing a fall protection device, like security bars, and leaving it for rooftop security will save contractors man-hours and liability.

Fall protection for roofers is an important topic in the roofing industry. California Code of Regulations oversees fall protection codes and has ruled on a groundbreaking issue. Security Bars have been approved for Title 8, Section 3212 Fall Protection Codes.

Rooftop safety and security products and practices are essential for a safe work environment. Roofing Contractors spend a lot of time ensuring they comply with codes and standards. Title 8, Section 3212 states:

  • “Every floor and roof opening shall be guarded by a cover, a guardrail, or equivalent on all open sides. While the cover is not in place, the openings shall be constantly attended by someone or shall be protected by guardrails. Toe-boards shall be installed around the edges at opening where persons may pass below the opening.”

SKYCO Skylights led the push by manufacturers to update the standards so their customers could save time and money with a universal, code compliant product.

Some exceptions apply but for the most part an opening on a roof needs to have fall protections. Properly covering each hole can be time consuming for contractors. Placing a fall protection device, like security bars, and leaving it for rooftop security will save contractors man-hours and liability and give building owners and occupants the security they need.

Most building owners require security bars for their building, it can lower insurance costs and liabilities, so installing a security bar that doubles as fall protection is a practical concept. For a 500k square foot warehouse you can have upwards of 400 skylight openings.

Not all security bars are approved for Title 8, Section 3212. They need to withstand an impact test of 400 pounds minimum, no opening can be larger than 12 inches horizontally, the lip cannot be higher than 1 inch, and in the case of broken skylight glazing no impalement hazard for worker who has fallen through.

SKYCO Skylights’ team is knowledgeable in rooftop safety topics and codes but it is best practice to speak directly with a code official. For the entire detailed requirements and regulations contact SKYCO Skylights or go to the California Department of Industrial Relations website

Fixed Railing System Provides Fall Protection Around Roof Hatches

The BILCO Co. has introduced its BIL-Guard 2.0, which, like its predecessor, is a fixed railing system that provides a permanent means of fall protection around roof-hatch openings.

The BILCO Co. has introduced its BIL-Guard 2.0, which, like its predecessor, is a fixed railing system that provides a permanent means of fall protection around roof-hatch openings.

The BILCO Co. has introduced its BIL-Guard 2.0, which, like its predecessor, is a fixed railing system that provides a permanent means of fall protection around roof-hatch openings. The new model boasts aluminum construction for increased strength and rigidity, a redesigned self-closing hinge and positive latching system, and stainless-steel hardware throughout. The product is available in mill-finish aluminum and with a safety-yellow powder-coat paint finish. Compliant with OSHA fall-protection standards, the BIL-Guard 2.0 features a mounting system that does not penetrate the roof membrane.

NRCA Addresses OSHA’s Final Rule Governing Workplace Exposure to Crystalline Silica

William A. Good, CAE, vice president of NRCA, states: “Based on our initial review, NRCA has serious concerns regarding OSHA’s new silica regulation. First and foremost, we are concerned the final regulation significantly will increase fall hazards for roofing workers by requiring contractors to implement engineering controls that are not suited to work performed on sloped roofs. We are also concerned the rule will add significant new compliance costs for contractors that OSHA continues to seriously underestimate. Although we continue to have serious concerns, we appreciate OSHA made modest improvements in the final rule in response to concerns we articulated in testimony on the regulation as originally proposed.

“NRCA submitted detailed comments to OSHA in response to the initial proposed regulation released in 2013 and also testified at a hearing on the proposal in April 2014. Additionally, NRCA representatives met with officials in the Office of Management and Budget in February 2016 to reiterate these concerns as the final silica regulation underwent its final review.

“When it becomes effective for the construction industry in June of 2017, OSHA’s final silica regulation will dramatically reduce the permissible exposure level [PEL] for silica in construction workplaces to 50 micrograms per cubic meter (from the current 250) and will establish an action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter. To meet these much lower levels, new engineering controls will become necessary to ensure compliance. With respect to roofing work, this likely will require workers who face even minimal amounts of exposure to silica dust to use wet cutting methods and dust masks.

“NRCA is most concerned the new requirements will increase the risk of falls for roofing workers. Under the new rule, workers in many cases will have to use wet saws on the rooftop, introducing new hazards, such as slipping on wet surfaces and tripping on hoses. We call on OSHA to work cooperatively with us to identify implementation strategies that protect workers from the new fall hazards created by the rule.

“Despite some improvements in the final rule, NRCA continues to be concerned compliance with the regulation may not always be technologically feasible and will cause much uncertainty for employers. For example, some commercial laboratories have indicated they are not capable of measuring workplace silica levels with accuracy or consistency at such low levels.

“NRCA leadership and staff will continue reviewing the 1,772-page final rule issued March 25 to determine and analyze the potential effects on the roofing industry and will provide further information and guidance for members in the future.”

NRCA and United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Jointly Support National Safety Stand-Down, May 2-6

The following is a joint statement attributable to William Good, CEO of the National Roofing Contractors Association, and Kinsey M. Robinson, international president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers:

“On behalf of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers (UURWAW) and National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), we are pleased to continue our annual support for the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, organized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), taking place throughout the U.S. from May 2-6, 2016.

“The latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show 69 workers in the roofing industry died in 2014 from falls that occurred as they were doing their jobs. Those numbers reflect 69 families that have been changed forever by the loss of a loved one—a spouse, father, mother, son or daughter whose death has left a void in the hearts of family and friends.

“The National Safety Stand-Down is an effort to focus company and worker attention on the significance of fall hazards in construction and emphasize the importance of effectively implementing fall-protection systems on every project. NRCA and UURWAW encourage their members and all involved in the roofing industry to participate in the National Safety Stand-Down by delivering focused fall-protection awareness toolbox talks at the start of each day during that week and throughout the year.

“NRCA’s Toolbox Talks regarding personal fall-arrest systems, skylight and roof openings, warning-line systems and ladder safety can be found by clicking here. In addition, NRCA and OSHA will co-host a webinar about roofing fall protection Monday, May 2.

Special materials developed by UURWAW about fall protection can be accessed online, as well.

“Let’s pledge to continue the efforts to increase awareness of fall hazards, not just that week but throughout the year so all workers are safe performing the critical, quality work they do and are able to go home to their families each day!”

Keep Job Sites Safe with Hard Hat Tethers and Lanyard Systems

Hammerhead Industries introduces its  line of hard hat tethers and lanyard systems.

Hammerhead Industries introduces its line of hard hat tethers and lanyard systems.

Dropped from aloft, a hard hat is a 1-pound unguided missile that endangers the entire work site. It’s an accident that can be virtually eliminated with Hammerhead Industries’ line of hard hat tethers and lanyard systems.

In the unfortunate event of a fall, a fall-arrest harness protects the worker, but as his hard hat continues its descent, a fall-arrest harness won’t protect the worksite. Designed for use with all fall-protection harness systems, the RT5-5601 and RT5-5602 Hard Hat Retractable Tethering Systems are weight-tested to safely secure all commonly used industrial hard hats. The main difference is how each attaches to the worker.

The RT5-5601 is easily attached with Velcro strap loops and cinches around the fall protection harness strap, ring or tri-bar while the RT5-5602 employs a threaded stud that securely attaches to a garment with structure such as coveralls or vest. The RT5-5601 and RTS-5602 use a sturdy, industrial-grade spectra/nylon line that extends up to 14 inches. For additional safety, they both feature a gentle 2.5-ounce retraction force that takes up any unused slack to avoid entanglement by keeping the lanyard close to the body.

When workers are ready to call it a day, Gear Keeper’s patented Quick Connect System allows the hard hat to be easily disconnected without completely removing the lanyard’s base. The third product in the Gear Keeper Hard Hat line is the cost-effective standard Hard Hat lanyard TL1-5001. The 20-inch loop mount uses a spring clip that attaches to a garment with structure, such as coveralls or vest.

Best New Products Named at IRE

Judges of the recent 2016 International Roofing Expo’s Product Showcase chose three winners out of a selection of 21 new products that were displayed in a 1,500-square-foot pavilion on the show floor.

D.I. Roof Seamers was awarded “Best New Product” for its Curver, a panel radius bender for snap-lock metal roof panels.

Capturing second place was Standing Seam Roof Anchor for its universal-fit fall-protection anchor for standing-seam roofs.

Third place was awarded to Tie Down Engineering for its Penetrator Mobile Fall Protection Cart, a lightweight, fully portable mobile fall-protection device.

“It is a huge honor to be recognized by your industry colleagues; our heartfelt congratulations go out to the three winners,” says Tracy Garcia, CEM, IRE show director. “We were very impressed by the creative and innovative level of the winning products.”’

OSHA vs. State Rules: Residential Fall Protection

The Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration has demanded some states that administer their own occupational safety and health agencies and enforce state-specific workplace rules adopt federal provisions related to residential fall protection. California, Kentucky, Oregon and Washington are four such states with provisions for residential fall protection that differ from federal OSHA’s. One of the federal requirements is that fall protection is required in roofing work at heights of 6 feet or greater. OSHA has singled out this requirement as one that the states must meet or OSHA will take over enforcement of all construction workplace rules.

Government statistics indicate state plan states that use a risk-based approach, where roof height is one of many factors considered when developing regulations, generally experience lower worker death and injury rates than comparable federal states.

The recent release of initial workplace fatality numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, for 2014 has again brought the issue to the forefront and prompted the following Jan. 29, 2016, response from NRCA CEO William A. Good to Dean McKenzie, OSHA’s acting director of construction.

Dear Mr. McKenzie:

We are, of course, incredibly disappointed that you choose to carry on with your plan to impose federal rules, developed over the objections of the roofing industry, on states that have had considerable success with their own fall protection regulations. Those regulations have been developed, for the most part, with the ac- tive involvement of health and safety agencies, management and labor in the affected states. What’s more, in most of the states you cite as being deficient in meeting the federal “effectiveness” standard, the rate of accidents and fatalities from falls in construction is consistently better than it is in comparable states under federal OSHA’s jurisdiction.

And what’s even more incredible is that since federal OSHA unilaterally changed the rules for residential fall protection, the number of fatal falls has actually increased. OSHA’s promise that the cancellation of STD 3.1 in 2010 would make roofing workers safer has delivered the opposite result with 61 roofing workers killed by falls in 2012, 66 in 2013 and 69 in 2014. And yet OSHA marches on, unaffected by the facts.

How you can consistently ignore the data and instead rely on a vague definition of “effectiveness” is frankly beyond me, and makes absolutely no sense. It seems to me that an effective safety standard is one that actually works to protect workers from falls, rather than one that meets certain regulatory language.

In your letter you cite “standards that permit, for example, certain work to be performed at heights of 15 to 20 feet without positive fall protection.” As we have argued previously, the height of the roof is not the only issue that needs to be considered for effective fall protection. Rather, job-specific fall-protection assessment should take into account the type of building, the slope of the roof and the type of roofing materials being installed. This strikes me as being remarkably similar to the approach to safety Dr. Michaels, among others, has long advocated, but this approach is missing from OSHA’s heavy-handed efforts to impose federal rules on states.

In addition, if height were indeed the only issue, then perhaps you can explain why certain scaffolding operations are allowed up to 10 feet without fall protection, and why certain steel erection activities are allowed up to 30 feet without fall protection. And perhaps you can also explain why, over the period from 2010 to 2013, Texas had an average fatal construction fatality rate of 11.63, while California’s was 5.95.

The tragedy, of course, is that this isn’t just an academic conversation. Lives are at stake, and more are being lost in those states OSHA is responsible for than in those that have developed workable and, yes, effective, regulations.

I understand you choose not to meet with us to discuss this further. While I’m not surprised, I am left to wonder what is reasonably to be done to make roofing jobs safer. OSHA’s approach has made things worse, and you seem intent on just doing more of the same.

Sincerely,
William A. Good, CAE
Chief Executive Officer
National Roofing Contractors Association

Safety Railing System Provides Fall Protection around Roof Hatch Openings

The BILCO Co. has introduced the BIL-Guard 2.0, the second generation of its safety railing system.

The BILCO Co. has introduced the BIL-Guard 2.0, the second generation of its safety railing system.

The BILCO Co. has introduced the BIL-Guard 2.0, the second generation of its safety railing system. The BIL-Guard 2.0, like its predecessor, is a fixed railing system that provides a permanent means of fall protection around roof hatch openings. The new and improved model will be available this summer and boasts aluminum construction for increased strength and rigidity, a redesigned self-closing hinge and positive latching system, and stainless steel hardware throughout. The product is available in mill finish aluminum and with a safety yellow powder-coat paint finish.

Also compliant with OSHA fall protection standards (29 CFR 1910.23), the BIL-Guard 2.0 features an innovative mounting system that does not penetrate the roofing membrane. The new system is easy to install and does not require special training or certification for proper installation. The design features quick-mount curb brackets for a fast, secure attachment and pivoting mounting sleeves with compression fittings to lock the railing system into place. The BIL-Guard 2.0 is also equipped with a standard self-closing gate to maintain continuous fall protection to ensure that OSHA compliance is preserved.