The Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada reported that in 2022, there were 20,625 accepted lost claim times due to workplace falls in the Midwest to Western Provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. This resulted in an unfortunate 26 fatalities. While 72% of the claims were for falls on the same level, 85% (22 of 26) of the fatalities were from falls to a lower level.

Clearly, preventing workplace falls on all levels is a major concern, but protection against falls to a lower level, especially from a rooftop, is critical to reducing the fatality rate. That is why these provinces have specific regulations and guidelines for employers to follow regarding fall protection. Fortunately, engineered fall protection systems enable employers to follow the regulations and protect their workers.

 

Collective (passive) and Personal (active) Fall Protection

A collective fall protection system—such as a guardrail—protects multiple workers at once without special equipment or training. Since a collective system provides fall protection with no extraordinary measures, it is also called “passive” fall protection.

A personal fall arrest system—such as a lifeline and roof anchor—protects an individual worker throughout a rooftop. It involves qualified training and requires equipment inspections before and after each use. This hands-on aspect of protecting a worker makes it an “active” fall protection system.

active vs passive
Safer Roof Access

Rooftop safety begins with safe access to the roof. Roof hatches are a common means to access commercial, institutional, and industrial roofs. A modular roof hatch railing system will fit all standard hatches and configurations, has no “snag points,” and features a grab rail to aid workers climbing onto the roof.

The railings can be constructed of galvanized steel or aluminum for strength, durability, and corrosion resistance. They are fitted with a self-closing gate to prevent workers from falling back into the hatch.

Hatch / Fall Protection
guardrail system
Safety at the perimeter

The roof edge is the most apparent hazard on a rooftop. A compliant perimeter guardrail system protects workers from falling over the edge and can be counterbalanced, attached to parapets, or fitted to metal roofs. They are modular systems that adapt to the roof layout and are installed easily without penetrating the roof. Like roof hatch railings, they are constructed of galvanized steel or aluminum for strength, durability, and corrosion resistance.

Safety Demarcation Zones

Workers that access the rooftop to perform uncomplicated, infrequent tasks (no more than monthly) and temporary (less than two hours) can be protected by a compliant warning or demarcation line. Depending on the circumstances (Is a perimeter guardrail in place? Is the worker wearing a personal fall arrest system?), a warning line can be used within 1.8 meters (6 feet) of the roof edge). In other situations, the warning line must be at least 4.6 meters (15 feet) from the roof edge.

An ideal warning line system features heavy-duty bases that do not penetrate the roof, galvanized steel uprights, and stainless steel cables with high-visibility warning flags every 1.8 meters (6 feet). It can be set up and moved for each task at hand.

Rooftop Warning Line
guardrailsystems-quote
Safe Travels on the Roof

Rooftops are slippery in wet weather and are typically filled with obstacles, trip hazards, and hard-to-reach areas. Anti-slip roof walkways and crossover platforms enable roofers to avoid trip hazards as they traverse the roof. They also protect the roof’s surface from worker traffic.

Lifelines Anchored in Safety

Lifeline systems—vertical, horizontal, overhead—are often used to protect individual workers on the rooftop. They provide fall restraint, but in the case of a fall, they also provide fall arrest. Lifelines give workers the range and flexibility to perform tasks on virtually every type of roof. A variety of harnesses, lanyards/ropes, and connectors are available for a worker’s lifeline system; however, it must be completed with a compliant roof anchor system.

Rooftop Horizontal Lifeline

Safety Regulations Summary

 

Provinces issue standards and regulations for fall protection compliance that have more in common than they do differences. In general, they call for building owners and employers to have a fall protection plan and safe work procedures that apply to heights of 3 meters (10 feet) or more.

The regulations cover many specifics, including roof access, guardrails, lifelines and anchors, travel restraints, fall arrest, rescue plans, and proper training. Details can be found as follows: