OSHA Skylights: Understanding Fall Protection and Why it’s of Such Importance

OSHA Skylights
Snow can make skylights invisible, increasing the risk of falls and injuries occurring.

How strong are your building’s skylights? Modern skylights are built to handle the effects of snow, hail and other extreme weather conditions. However, the weight of an individual is often enough to break or severely damage many modern skylights.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known as OSHA, offers guidelines for the design and strength of skylights aimed at preventing injuries or accidents from occurring due to weak or poorly designed daylighting equipment.

These guidelines explain a variety of important aspects of skylight safety, from the static load that a skylight can support to the ability of a skylight to tolerate weight and force from a serious fall.

In this post, we’ll look at the importance of the OSHA safety standards for skylights and explain how they’re an important part of making sure your building is safe and secure for workers with injury risks minimized.

OSHA regulations and fall protection

How safe are your skylights? In the event that someone working on the roof of your building accidentally fell onto a skylight, would it be able to support their weight in order to prevent them from falling through and into the building?

Modern skylights are designed to withstand the effects of extreme weather, but not all can provide the fall protection and strength required to make sure a worker stays safe in the event that they fall onto the skylight accidentally.

The OSHA guidelines for skylights go some distance towards making sure skylights are capable of supporting a reasonable amount of weight. However, they have some issues that make them less than ideal for providing optimal skylight safety.

One issue is that the OSHA regulations are quite ambiguous. Part of the regulations, which can be viewed here, note that skylights need to be “capable of withstanding a load of at least 200 pounds.”

This sounds good, and it’s certainly a reasonable standard for skylights. However, it uses vague and non-optimal wording. “Load” refers to a static amount of weight, not the sudden impact force that a skylight will be subject to if someone falls on it.

The OSHA regulations also stipulate that this load can be “applied perpendicularly at any one area of the screen.” No specific area is specified, meaning that this load could be spread across a large skylight or concentrated in a tiny area of its surface.

Bristolite skylights and fall protection

Our skylights are some of the strongest in the business. We use a range of durable, strong impact-resistance materials in building out skylights to make sure they’re a dependable choice on any building project.

This includes our Energy Star Fiberlite, Tufflite Polycarbonate and Trituff Copolyester skylights – the strongest skylights in our entire range, which are built to be as highly impact resistant as possible.

Despite this, we include a detailed warning message on all our skylights explaining that they’re not designed as walking surfaces. This warning message also explains that skylights are not built to withstand human impact or falling objects.

The most effective way to prevent falls from causing injury is by training employees that work on roofs and other spaces that include skylights to work safely by letting them know exactly where skylights are.

This is particularly important in cold areas, where snow can often cover skylights on an open roof and make them almost completely invisible to workers, increasing the risk of a fall or serious accident occurring.

It’s also important that skylights are installed with safety screens and security grills, both of which provide a second safety measure and stop slips and falls from causing more serious accidents and injuries.

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