Common Myths About Roof Guardrail

Investing In Roof Safety Reading Common Myths About Roof Guardrail 4 minutes Next Loading Dock Fall Protection

In our business, we attack fall protection challenges using a hierarchy of controls.  We start by looking at the simplest hazard mitigation strategies before moving on to more complex options.  Prime examples of this approach include eliminating the hazard or applying administrative controls such as training personnel on how to work safely at heights.  When these techniques are insufficient, we begin looking at additional strategies such as passive fall protection, fall restraint, or the use of a fall arrest system.

When most folks hear the phrase “fall protection,” their minds go to horizontal lifelines which can prevent a worker from falling (fall restraint) or rigid rail fall arrest systems that stop a worker from striking machinery below the work area or the ground level.   Make no mistake–these common fall protection systems have merit.  That said, the hierarchy of controls previously mentioned only prescribes these approaches when less complex solutions aren’t viable options.

Fall restraint and fall arrest systems require a worker to don a body harness and tie off.  The effectiveness of a fall arrest system depends on an engineer’s ability to perform the calculations needed to ensure the system–and the structure used to anchor the system–is sufficient to absorb the energy applied during a fall.  Put another way, there are a lot of complex variables to consider.  Passive fall protection systems have fewer variables that can fail.

Guardrail is one of the best examples of passive fall protection.  Simple to install and easy to use, guardrail protects workers from the hazards posed by your roof’s leading edges.  Roof guardrail eliminates the need to tie-off, as well as the annual inspections and re-certifications associated with roof lifelines.  What’s more, roof safety railing minimizes the need for employee training.  Despite these benefits, roof guardrail systems have their detractors.  Some of the concerns we hear about guardrail are valid, but in many instances, folks dismiss guardrail as an option before arming themselves with the facts.  Below are some common misconceptions about roof guardrail, along with our attempts to set the record straight.

Roof Guardrail Detracts From the Appearance Of My Building
In many instances, our clients own industrial or commercial buildings, so guardrail powder coated with standard, safety yellow is not a huge concern.  That said, we do have situations where having the guardrail blend with the building facade–or matching company colors is a priority.   Because we are a guardrail manufacturer, we can custom powder coat in a color of your choice with at no additional charge.

Guardrail Causes Roof Damage and Leaks
Your facility’s roof is an enormous investment, and we appreciate client concerns about leaks and damage.  That said, most of the guardrail we install on flat or low sloped roofs is non-penetrating.  We even offer rubber base pads to protect the roof surface from the accidental penetrations and tears that cause leaks.

Freestanding Guardrail Places Too Much Load on Roofs
Although you will want an engineering consultation to ensure your roof can support a guardrail system, at 57 pounds, we offer the lightest base plates in the guardrail industry. Many of the competing systems on the feature market base plates that weigh 100 pounds or more.  Our engineers designed a base plate that was strong enough to stand up to high wind gusts while significantly reducing the load on your roof.

Portable Guardrail Is Too Expensive
It is true that for some longer applications, a horizontal lifeline is a more cost-effective alternative.  For smaller coverage areas, guardrail typically costs less than an engineered system.  And when you purchase guardrail factory direct, you avoid markups.  If you are concerned about the costs of guardrail–or if you received expensive quotes from other vendors, give us an opportunity to earn your business.  We manufacture your guardrail right here in our Cleveland, Ohio plant–and pass the savings along to you.

Next Steps
To learn more about safety guardrail contact our safety experts at Unistrut Service Company for further assistance.