Skylights are a fantastic source of natural light that allow your business to reduce its energy consumption, increase its productivity and create a more comfortable work environment for its staff.
While modern skylights are designed to tolerate a reasonable amount of force that prevents serious falls and injuries, many older skylights aren’t built to today’s safety standards. As such, they can present a number of serious safety risks.
From falling through a weak and ineffective skylight during roof maintenance to the alarmingly common slip-and-fall injuries that can occur in winter weather, the older and non-OSHA compliant skylights in many old buildings are often safety hazards.
In this guide, we’ll explain how the OSHA skylight fall protection regulations prevent serious injuries from occurring and keep your staff protected. We’ll also examine the weaknesses of the OSHA regulations to help you buy the safest skylights available.
How OSHA protects people from dangerous falls
At night, with visibility low, it’s remarkably easy for workers on your building’s roof to mistake a skylight for a piece of solid material. This can result in people stepping on surfaces that aren’t designed to tolerate the full weight of a human.
Today’s skylights are designed to comply with the OSHA Fall Protection CFRs, which specify that skylights need to be able to withstand a load of 200 pounds or greater to prevent dangerous falls.
Older skylights were often built using plain glass that wasn’t designed to tolerate the weight of a human. A single misstep could result in someone passing through a glass panel and falling, often a significant distance, and severely injuring themselves.
The added strength and load tolerance of OSHA skylights allows them to withstand a misstep or mistake by individuals that, if it occurred to an older skylight, could lead to a lengthy fall and potentially serious injuries.
Issues with the current OSHA Fall Protection CFRs
Although the OSHA fall protection regulations provide a lot of value in preventing building owners from installing dangerous skylights, there are several aspects of safety in which they fall short.
One of the biggest issues with the OSHA CFRs is that they use load as a way to assess a skylight’s strength and suitability for use, instead of the more relevant metric – in this case, impact force.
Most falls and missteps don’t create a great deal of load, which is a measure of static weight placed on a surface. They do, however, create an immense amount of impact force due to the kinetic energy involved in motion.
This means that if you’re shopping for a reliable skylight, the OSHA CFRs should be one aspect of your decision, not the only one. Search for a skylight that doesn’t just meet the OSHA regulations, but one that exceeds them.
Are your skylights safe and designed to prevent against falls?
Not all skylights are equally safe or strong. Many skylights simply aren’t designed to tolerate the weight of an individual that mistakenly steps in the wrong place while working on your building’s roof.
If you’re concerned about safety and want to ensure that falls and other injuries are not a problem for your organization, make sure your building uses skylights that go beyond the minimum requirements as specified in the OSHA Fall Protection CFRs.