Safety Tip of the Week
Don’t Fall Through a Skylight
When someone sits, stands, walks, or falls on top of a skylight, chances are it won’t support that person’s weight. And what’s below the skylight is typically a very long drop.
When working around a skylight, its presence must be addressed even if the work you are performing is not directly related to the skylight. The smallest misstep could lead to someone falling through a skylight and suffering a major injury or worse.
What your employees need to know about working around skylights
Injuries and deaths have occurred when people decided to sit on skylights during lunch breaks, or by walking over one while trying to access another area of the roof.
Raised or protruding skylights can be tripping hazards – especially if someone is not paying attention to where they are walking. Conversely, some skylights lay flat, flush with the roof and are difficult to see.
What your employees need to do when working around skylights
If the assigned task has your workers within six feet of a skylight, Cal/OSHA requires that specific safety steps be taken before any other work can begin.
These options include:
- Securely installing a mesh guard over each skylight.
- Securely installing a screen under the skylight.
- Securely installing guardrails around each skylight
- Placing a net or other covering over the skylight
- Use of a suspension harness when your workers are installing the barriers or have no option to cover the skylights.
If a skylight is removed, a specifically-designed floor covering strong enough to hold at least 400 pounds, must be placed over the opening and securely mounted to the roof. A written notice stating “Opening – Do Not Remove” is also required.
What to cover at your safety meeting
Discuss with your workers the challenges they face while working on a roof with skylights. Remind them not to begin the assigned tasks without taking the proper protective measures.
- Have a skylight guard, guardrails, or other required coverings available at your meeting and demonstrate how to properly install them.
- If you will be installing temporary perimeter fencing or netting, have this on hand for a demonstration.
- Remind employees when a fall protection harness is required, and demonstrate how to use it.
- Remind your employees not to climb, sit, or lean on skylight guardrails or mesh guarding.
- Review your rescue plan so everyone knows what to do in the event someone falls.
When your employees work at heights, they are at greater risk of serious or fatal injury. When skylights are involved, the risk increases due to the added number of openings in the roof.
Use of proper guarding and fall protection help your employees complete their work in a safer environment.
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