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Stellar tips for safe skylight use

Skylights can be a great addition to a workplace by providing more sunlight and creating brighter workspaces. Research shows that this can even boost morale, improve employee satisfaction and increase productivity. It can save you on electricity over time, too, since you won’t need to use as much artificial lighting. Especially for workers in roofing and other construction industries, though, skylights can greatly increase the risk of rooftop fall injuries and even death. Learn how to protect your employees and yourself from the risks posed by skylights by taking the necessary safety precautions.

Safety Information for Employers

As an employer, ensuring that your employees stay safe on the job is a top priority. Encourage them to be safe rather than take unnecessary risks. No one should perform work on roofs during poor weather conditions. Any doors or windows that open out onto a roof with a skylight should be locked to minimize risk of injury. Only give keys to authorized personnel. Emphasize the importance of fall prevention when training employees. Make sure they know the safest ways to perform their tasks and what protective equipment is available to them. Make sure you assign the right tasks to the right people. Be aware of age regulations regarding construction work. For skylight safety, make sure no one under the age of 18 is doing roofing work. Don’t ask an employee to do work around skylights if they aren’t properly trained to do so. Scheduling both expected and unexpected inspections for workspaces with skylights can help you ensure your employees are practicing workplace safety. Checking the worksite for any potential dangers at the beginning of every shift can also be a great precaution to take. Be sure that you are in complete compliance with current OSHA standards. Regulations can change every couple of years, so it’s worth your time to make sure your facilities are up to date with the most current guidelines. In addition to training, you are required have some type of skylight safety device in place. Read the updated OSHA fall protection rules to decide what makes the most sense for your space.

Guardrails and Railings

OSHA requires skylight guardrails to be at least 42” above the walking surface and able to sustain at least 200 pounds of downward force. They should be made from a strong, durable material that won’t snag clothes or skin if someone walks by or falls into one. These can be a great safety choice because they don’t restrict the amount of light that can come through the skylight. They’re also highly visible, which can remind employees that they should be extra cautious. They are effective at stopping falls and comply with OSHA guidelines.

Screens or Coverings

OSHA guidelines for skylight screens or covers changed in 2017, so if you choose this safety precaution, be sure it’s in compliance with the most recent OSHA requirements. Screens should be “capable of supporting without failure, at least twice the maximum intended load that may be imposed on the cover at any one time.” They also must be secured so that they cannot cause displacement.

Personal Fall Protection Devices

These devices should be used in addition to guardrails or coverings but not as the sole provision to prevent skylight-related injuries. These can either be permanent or temporary, and you can use harnesses, lanyards, anchor points and/or lifelines. If you want to be sure that the protective measures for your skylight(s) are sufficient to comply with OSHA standards, you can email them or call your local office for information specific to your situation. Since the risk of insufficient protection is serious injury or death, it’s worth it to be sure that your employees stay protected.

Safety Information for Employees

If you are concerned about your ability or knowledge to do your assigned task in a safe manner when around a skylight, ask your employer for more training. Take advantage of any safety training provided by your employer to protect you and everyone else with whom you work. Never sit or lean against a skylight railing or cover, and don’t remove hole covers. If the safety provisions must be removed for a specific job, be sure that anyone on the roof is utilizing personal fall protection devices. If you do have to uncover a skylight, be sure to re-cover it before leaving to protect employees during future shifts. Reach out to your independent insurance agent today to learn how you can make sure your business is properly covered.