Falls from height are one of the largest contributors to workplace deaths, and unprotected skylights and rooflights are one of the biggest contributors to work at height injury and death statistics. There are several options available to reduce the risk skylights pose ensuring working at height can be done safely.
The danger of unprotected skylights
People often mistakenly believe skylights are safe, assuming that designers wouldn’t specify a product which would not prevent a fall if it came to it.
Although skylights are legally required to be able to take the weight of a person when installed, weather and UV damage can quickly degrade the skylight’s protective layers, rendering it brittle and unsafe. Older-style skylights can even become discoloured and blend in with the roof, making them effectively invisible, and an even greater risk.
Polycarbonate / non fragile rooflights are only deemed to be ‘non fragile’ during the construction phase of a project. After the construction phase they are considered to be fragile.
It is vital to ensure skylights and rooflights are fully protected and squared away, but unfortunately many are not, leaving them open and putting those who access the roof at risk of serious injury or death.
Case Study: Worker fell through skylight
The WSHC Bulletin has recently published an accident alert about a worker who fell through a skylight when storing some materials on the attic level of a residential house in Singapore. The fall distance was about 17 metres. The worker was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Ministry of Manpower has commenced investigations into the accident.
Solutions for working at height safely
Falls through fragile rooflights and skylights continue to account for the majority of fall from height fatalities. Accidents such as the case mentioned above can easily be avoided by using suitable equipment and making sure those carrying out the work are provided with adequate information, training and supervision.
Building owners and contractors have a duty to ensure the safety of those accessing their roofs. There are several options available to reduce the risk skylights pose, the first is by far the simplest: avoid going onto the roof wherever possible. The work at height hierarchy of controls prioritises this over all other forms of protection.
If work at height cannot be avoided and you are responsible for people accessing the roof, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure the work can be done safely. All fragile surfaces should be identified and clearly marked out prior to work commencement. Adequate protection should be provided if there is a risk of falling through the fragile surface, such as perimeter edge protection or a suitable load-bearing cover.
As a solution to the problem of safe access onto the roof, Kee Safety Singapore offers a range of products specifically designed to prevent falls through skylights and rooflights: KEE DOME and KEE COVER systems.
KEE COVER rooflight protection
The KEE COVER range provides a robust effective solution for covering unprotected roof lights without blocking out the light they are supposed to let into a building.
- Adaptable safety solution for covering rooflights on trapezoidal and standing seam roofs
- Modular construction, which is easily transported to the roof top
- All components and mesh panels are hot dip galvanised for enhanced durability
- Tube can be colour coated if greater visibility is required
- Mesh panels do not block out light, keeping the building illuminated
- Easily fitted keeping installation costs down
- Tested to EN 1873 and complies with the ACR Red Book.
KEE DOME skylight fall protection
KEE DOME is a modular system designed specifically to prevent falls through skylights. Recycled PVC bases lock the posts into position around the perimeter of the rooflight. KEE KLAMP fittings and standard length tubes are used to construct a rigid frame around the skylight.
- Provides collective fall protection
- Fits square and rectangular skylights
- Recycled PVC feet do not penetrate the roof membrane
- Rapid assembly around the designated areas
- Compliant to EN ISO 14122 part 3.