A roof hatch offers safe access to roof areas for workers engaged in HVAC equipment maintenance works, renovation works, and so on. Most of the non-residential buildings are equipped with a roof hatch safety system. A typical roof hatch safety system comprises of grab bars and a self-closing safety gate. An open roof hatch, especially one that is unattended, can be dangerous. It is a fall hazard that can cause injury or even death. It is a safety and liability concern that all the building owners must address. If a roof hatch safety system is not in place, it can result in a fine from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

Working on the roof itself can be dangerous. You may think that as long as the worker looks where he/she is going, there is no risk of falling through the roof hatch. However, in reality, that is not the case. No matter how careful you are, there is always the possibility of falling down a roof hatch, maybe while you are carrying something around or by losing balance suddenly. A roof hatch safety guardrail will help to prevent this.

Compliance options

OSHA Safety FirstThere are a number of ways the building owners can ensure compliance with OSHA fall protection standards when it comes to roof hatches. They can instruct the workers to immediately close the hatch after accessing the roof, and then open it only to exit the area. However, it is not a very practical option since they cannot enforce all the building personnel to do this. Also, it is difficult to check whether this is followed religiously. Hence, a railing system with its own self-closing gate is the best option. Once a worker enters the roof area or exits it, the gate will automatically swing shut. This and the railings will maintain a barrier around the opening, all the time. This will prevent anybody from falling down the roof hatch accidentally. The grab bars offer extra safety while entering and exiting through the roof hatch.

Fixed roof hatch safety guardrail

Like the name indicates, it is a permanent roof hatch guardrail system. It can be used on a variety of roofs. It provides fall arrest and fall restraint around openings and leading edges of the roof. It is preferred on a lot of modern buildings because of its stylish appearance. It can be bolted to the roof with a gasket connection. It can be easily installed. The system meets the OSHA standard 1910.23 (a) (2). Once the system is installed you do not have to worry about it anymore.

Non-penetrating roof hatch guardrail system

Hatch penetrations or roof curbs are not required to install this safety system. It is a one-piece design, hence it does not have to be assembled. It can be installed with minimal efforts. The non-penetrating roof hatch system can be installed without performing any drilling on the roof. It has a 2-feet safe landing zone. A worker can climb out, gain footing, and then open the safety gate.

Most of the modern day hatches and the safety guardrails are constructed out of corrosion-resistant and long-lasting materials. A hot-dip galvanized finish can ensure durability no matter what the outdoor environment is.

With a roof hatch safety system, a building owner can provide safety of workers working around open hatches.

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.

No other part of a building absorbs more punishment than the roof. Whether it’s the snow that accumulates in the winter or the rain and hail that pounds away on it during the spring and summer, a roof gets no relief from the elements. This makes it more susceptible to failure.

The best way to avoid issues is to have the roof inspected on a regular basis and perform preventative maintenance when necessary. The only way to do a thorough inspection is by having a trained employee or hired professional check for wet spots, signs of damage or aging material that could possibly fail.

Anytime someone climbs onto a commercial roof there is the potential for injury or even death. Professionals and employees who following proper safety measures and employ the right safety equipment can not only help prevent falls, it can make inspections and repairs less time consuming and more affordable in the long run.

Here are three roof safety maintenance tips to remember.

Safety Equipment

Roof Fall Protection SystemsThere is a great deal of commercially available safety equipment designed to prevent or mitigate falls. Not all of it may be necessary for your particular situation, but some of these devices are well suited to protecting staff during routine roof inspections and maintenance. There are two types of basic fall protection systems to consider an active system that requires a tie-off anchor, anchor on the roof or a passive system such as a guardrail.

Guardrails can help a fall from occurring unlike an active system which may stop a fall in progress but has a greater potential for injury. Two of the most common types of guardrails are non-penetrating guardrails and fixed based guardrails. Non-penetrating guardrails aren’t secured which eliminates the need to make holes in the roof and engineering. They are easily installed and fit the contour of any roof. Fixed based guardrails are attached to the roof by brackets. These guardrails typically don’t require any on-site fabrication and can be fixed to the side or surface of the roof. Both types of guardrails are available in a variety materials such as steel and aluminum.

Follow Procedures

It is important that everyone in your organization knows whom is and isn’t allowed access to the roof. It is better if only a limited number of people share this responsibility. Keep track of the keys that are issued to these individuals and stress that they are never to be given to anyone with authorization to be on the roof.

Safety procedures should be clearly established and adhered to with no exceptions. Even outside contractors and vendors should be bound by the same procedures that your staff is required to follow.


Training should be conducted on a regular basis to ensure procedures are up to date and fresh in the minds of employees who will be conducting inspections and performing maintenance. They should understand how all of the safety equipment functions. The layout of the roof should familiar to them to ensure they don’t encounter any unexpected hazards in the course of roof inspections and maintenance. A one-time training will not sufficient to prepare your people for all of the situations they may encounter.