Introduction to High 5
At Fixfast USA our vision is to ensure those working at heights return home safely and our mission is to provide maximum safety and minimum fuss to workers at height. We have developed a program called High 5 to help individuals get home by ensuring that the roofs they are working on are safe.
Falls from heights are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. Between 2003 and 2013, falls were the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Throughout that time, 34% of the deaths were made up of falls from roofs. More recently in 2016, 370 of the 991 fatalities recorded were caused by falls from heights. All of these deaths are preventable.
When performing a safe access and or fall protection audit on your facility, it can seem like an overwhelmingly complex task. This simple, complete, five step program allows you to quickly and easily determine where the hazards are and how to address them. This program ensures access methods, access points, typical roof hazards, and leading edges are analyzed in a systematic manner.
Safety starts with an S
But begins with You
The first step of the High 5 program is to identify how the roof is accessed. First and foremost having compliant access to the roof is paramount as this is where the majority of falls occur.
Some common methods of accessing a roof include an exterior fixed ladder, roof hatch, portable ladder, exterior stair system or EWP (elevated working platform).
Once you’ve identified how the roof is being accessed there are a few important questions to ask yourself. Is fall protection required on the access method? Are access points secure? Is the access method OSHA compliant? Could unauthorized persons access the roof?
Roof Access Fall Hazards
The second step of the High 5 program is to identify what hazards may present themselves at the access or egress point. The important question to ask is, when accessing the roof, are workers exposed to a fall hazard of 4 ft. or more? If yes, then they are at risk and measures need to be taken.
There are some easy solutions to prevent workers from being exposed to fall hazards. Guardrails can provide solid fall protection around stairs, fixed ladders and roof hatches. Self-closing gates are required at access points to ensure that OSHA compliance is maintained.
If a portable ladder is being used for roof access, a ladder support bracket could easily be installed to ensure that the portable ladder is secured in place during use.
Designated Walkway Routes
The third step of the High 5 program is to ensure that designated walkway routes are in place and are clearly defined. A walkway can ensure workers avoid fall hazards and stay on the intended paths only. Employers should clearly communicate and train workers to not deviate from the designated walkway.
If hazards such as leading edges, skylights, pits, smoke vents, openings and elevation changes can be identified, then designated walkway routes should be installed to keep workers safe and away from these areas.
Walkway systems combined with guardrail provide the highest level of safe access. In some applications, something as simple as a permanent warning line system can also be effective.
Equipment Near Fall Hazards
The fourth step of the High 5 program is to locate all equipment on the roof that is within the danger zone. Each situation is different, but at some point in time, rooftop equipment needs maintenance. This means that a worker could be put at risk.
When working on a low slope roof, is there equipment that is within 15 ft. of the leading edge or fall hazard that requires maintenance? If the answer is yes then something must be done to ensure OSHA compliance.
Guardrail systems can be erected around rooftop equipment to provide passive protection. In some applications a warning line system can also be used. This is only if the task being performed is temporary or infrequent. Other solutions could be a fall restraint or fall arrest system.
The fifth and final step of the High 5 program is to be aware of the hazards that present themselves when leading edges are left unguarded. Leading edges always pose a serious risk. If the previous steps of this program were followed, then the high risk areas should have already been addressed.
Some common hazards presented by leading edges include sloped roofs with slippery surfaces and trip hazards. Weather can introduce hazards that may not have been previously considered.
Solutions for step 5 are quite similar to those of step 4. Roof guardrail systems, warning line systems (only if the task being performed is temporary and infrequent), fall restraint and fall arrest anchors or lifelines are all efficient solutions to hazards that are presented from leading edges.
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There are many advantages to providing fall protection and safe access systems. Showing you care has a direct, positive impact on behavior in the workplace. Other advantages includes insurance deductions, ongoing cost savings when using contractors, and reduced damage to roof substrates, copings, and gutters. By providing fall protection you are also ensuring that you are meeting your obligations and compliance in providing a safe working environment as well as protecting the business from potential lawsuits and other legal implications.
We understand that every rooftop is different. At Fixfast USA we provide solutions and global innovation which allow us to be market leaders in roof access and fall protection. Becoming compliant with all OSHA standards takes time and investment. Following this program provides a structured approach to focus on the high risk hazards and frequently accessed areas. Contact a Fixfast USA representative or fall protection specialist for assistance in taking the safest steps.