How to Make Skylights Safer

January 09 2018 0comment

How to Make Skylights Safer

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Anybody working in roofing or construction here in the UK must be aware that falls from a height are one of the major causes of workplace fatalities, despite stringent legislation that is designed to make working in construction safer than ever before.  The requirements and responsibilities for those who supervise and carry out work at height can often seem unclear so today we’re taking a look at the dangers inherent when skylights are not adequately protected as these are one of the biggest contributors to falls from height incidents here in Britain.

People often tend to think that skylights are safe in the assumption that designers would not specify skylights which would not prevent a fall.  While skylights are legally required to be strong enough to take the weight of a person when they are first installed, they do deteriorate over time.  A skylight is open to the elements and experience swinging temperature changes and UV damage from the sunlight which cases the skylight’s protective layers to degrade and become brittle and unsafe over time. 

Older skylights often become discoloured and all skylights are in a position where they gather dust and are often difficult to distinguish from the flat roof surface surrounding them, making them an even greater risk.  Falls through a skylight are to blame for a whopping 20% of all fatal work at height accidents so it’s vital to ensure that they are fully protected.  Leaving skylights unprotected puts those who have to access the roof (whether legally or illegally) at risk of serious injury and even death.

The most common reason for skylights being left unprotected is cost and effort which really doesn’t cut it when you consider the potential fines involved for building owners or supervisors who neglect their responsibility to reduce risks and ensure safety.  There are several options available when it comes to making roof lights safe and minimising the risks they present.  One of the most cost-effective, but least disruptive, is to install roof safety demarcation barriers around the skylights, preventing access to them. 

Choosing the right type of safety demarcation barrier can mean that the barrier can be installed without the need for specialised training or specific equipment.  Our D-marc™ Roof Safety Demarcation Barrier System has been designed specifically to prevent access to hazards during regular rooftop maintenance and they won’t damage the roof covering in any way.

Another solution for flat roofs where access to plant and machinery is required on a regular basis is to install a roof walkway system.  A walkway system can be put in place that provides access to areas where regular maintenance or repair work may need to be carried out.  Again, it’s possible to choose such a system (like our D-walk Roof Walker Walkway System) that provides a safe route to work areas and plant but that doesn’t damage the surface of the roof in any way.  This provides a win-win solution for building owners and managers and enables them to demonstrate compliance with work at height regulations.

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