Roof Fall Prevention & Safety

Roof Fall Prevention & Safety

Whether it’s for maintenance purposes or it’s a regular part of the job, some workers are required to spend time on rooftops. No matter how routine the work may be, accidents can still happen.

OSHA guidelines mandate training and appropriate safety equipment for these workers, yet despite these efforts every year, hundreds of people are injured or killed in falls from roofs. This is even more tragic when you consider that most of these falls are entirely preventable.

There are a number of fall arrest and restraint systems available commercially that can help prevent injuries and save lives.

Since every roof is different, these systems must be positioned to provide work access without compromising the persons safety. Two of the most popular varieties of fall protection systems are fixed anchor systems and counterweight systems. Each has their own merits.

It is important to carefully consider the needs of your company when deciding which system to purchase.

– What type of roof will your personnel be working on?

– What kind of work will they be performing?

– Who will be accessing the roof?

– How close to the leading edge do you need to be?

– Is the system being used for fall arrest and if that is the case is there a rescue plan in place?

Only by asking these kinds of questions and having a Competent person as defined by ANSI evaluate the application can you accurately determine which system would do the best job of protecting your workers.

Fixed Roof Anchor Systems

md_0DpQEte3Aj-300x300Fixed roof anchor systems provide protection near leading edges and openings.

As the name would indicate, these systems are actually attached to the roof. Anchors can be attached to the roof deck either by toggle bolts or clamps, which gives you options which counterweight systems do not offer.


The main advantage of these systems is that they can be utilized on almost any type of roof. Fixed roof anchors are located to provide the worker with maximum work coverage area roof under the supervision of a qualified person. Also, they are lightweight which means they can easily be moved as needed.

It’s important to remember that these systems have to be attached to the roof usually by drilling holes to install the anchors, which always comes with the risk of causing leaks or other problems. If you wish to avoid making holes in your roof, you might want to consider a counterweight anchor system.

Counterweight Anchor Systems

DSF7284Counterweight anchor systems provide many of the same fall arrest features and offer the added convenience of being more portable, which allows workers to relocate them as necessary.

One of the major benefits of a counterweight anchor system is the fact that it doesn’t have to be attached which eliminates the chance of penetrating the roof and increasing the possibility of leaks. However, there are some additional considerations to keep in mind which don’t apply to fixed roof systems.

These systems are only suited for flat roofs the maximum allowed slope is five (5) degrees. They also should not be employed on rooftops that are covered with ice, snow, frost, or oil. You should make sure that the area where you are setting up the system is free of debris and water. Other than making sure the system doesn’t come into contact with moisture, oil, grease, algae and other foreign materials that can inhibit its ability to adhere to the surface properly, a counterweight anchor should work on any roofing surface.

Either of the systems when correctly applied will protect workers from falls. The only question is which is the best choice for your unique work environment. By taking some time to research your organization’s needs and the advantages of each system and working with a qualified fall protection expert, you can make a decision that provides your workers with the highest level of safety and productivity.

After you select the proper anchor for your application the next step would be to pick the compatible lanyard or self-retracting lifeline, making sure that the users are properly trained and never forget to have a rescue plan in place.

Peter KaviaBy Peter Kavia
CAI Safety Systems
Peter has been a safety expert for almost 20 years and is certified as a Qualified Fall Protection expert. He currently holds the title of Director of Operations for CAI Safety Systems, a custom turnkey fall protection company in Southern California.


Workers in manufacturing and commercial facilities face dangers in the workplace every day. Falls are one of the leading causes of injury and death on the job, particularly in the construction and manufacturing sectors. One misstep on an elevated surface can have tragic consequences.

Even the most experienced workers aren’t immune from this danger. Fortunately, government regulations are in place to protect employees from these preventable hazards. OSHA requires guardrails, safety gates, and other fall protection systems, of the proper type and dimensions, be installed on stairway, ladders and elevated surfaces. Most companies have taken the time to install guardrails on elevated work platforms but an often overlooked area is the point of access to the ladder. Workers face a dangerous hazard when accessing the ladder and having a safe egress/ingress zone is key for safety.

There are many options available to employers to help protect workers as they perform their jobs on ladders, scaffolds, platforms and roofs.


Ladders are frequently used in manufacturing settings. Whether attached to platforms, mezzanines or roofs, they allow workers access to both high traffic and limited access areas to perform a variety of tasks including regular daily work, and the maintenance or monitoring of equipment.

While ladders are used on a daily basis in manufacturing plants, they are also frequently the cause of accidents due to carelessness or mishaps. The primary concerns when it comes to ladder surfaces is limiting the possibility of someone entering the ladder opening by mistake or failing to close a chain with a clasp.

Many of these can be prevented through the installation of ladder safety gates and guard rails.

In order to be in compliance with federal guidelines these systems, and others must be in place to help mitigate the likelihood of falls. It is crucial that the right systems are used, conforming to the unique dimensions of the ladder and surface.

safety-gatesLadder Openings

Self-closing Safety gates can protect workers from walking directly into a ladder opening and suffering serious injury in a fall. Swing gates are a popular system for this purpose. Double and single doors are available with reduced swing radius. This is an economical way to prevent potential deadly falls in the workplace.

Safety gates come in a variety of sizes to accommodate almost any ladder opening and can easily be attached to almost any industrial surface. Many safety gates also include guardrail attachments for proving a controlled access zone on roof tops.


Providing adequate ladder safety isn’t an option, it is mandated by the federal government.

Ofixed_ladder_9_002SHA regulations state that any elevated opening on a worksite must have a properly functioning guard rail system to limit accessibility to the leading edge to a safe distance.

Guardrails not only help protect workers as they ascend and descend the ladder but can also prevent falls from leading edges.

Although some guardrails are non-penetrating and removable, most are attached to the surface. Steel is the preferred material for industrial guardrails due to its strength and durability.

All ladder safety systems, whether guardrails or safety gates, must be finished in vibrant safety yellow in order to conform to OSHA standards.

Make sure your company is not only in compliance with these regulations but also offers the highest quality fall protection systems available for your workers. Visit CAI Safety for superior ladder safety systems including guardrails and safety gates that meet OSHA standards: