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What is Roof Edge Protection?

By Dana DeCecco
Updated May 17, 2024
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Roof edge protection consists of equipment related to the safety of workers during construction and renovation projects. The purpose of roof edge protection is to guard against falling accidents. Providers of safety equipment have developed different types of safety systems. Guard rails, scaffolding, and screens are common examples of roof edge protection.

Fall protection standards are regulated in the US. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an average of 362 fatal falls occurred each year from 1995 to 1999, with the trend on the increase. Roof edge protection must meet or exceed safety standards set by government authorities.

The type of roof edge protection needed depends on the type of work to be performed. Different roof styles require different protection methods. Innovative suppliers provide a broad range of safety systems. The simplest form of edge protection is the toe board which might prevent a fall or a falling object such as a hammer.

Full scaffolding systems provide the maximum safety and flexibility during construction. Aluminum and steel versions are available from equipment rental services. Railings prevent falls from higher roof areas. Commercial scaffolding services can offer experienced installation crews to erect scaffolding that complies with government regulations.

Independent perimeter edge protection is not attached to a structure. It is supported and braced from the ground. Its main components include a working platform that extends out from the structure and an attached rail. Ladders or stairs are typically provided for ground access.

Roof edge railing systems can be attached or free standing. The free standing type is counterbalanced with weights and is suitable only for flat or very low pitched roofs. This type of railing is typically constructed of steel or aluminum tubing. It is lightweight for easy installation, yet very strong and durable for safety.

Railing systems can also be directly anchored to the structure. A broad range of fastening systems are available for the many different types of roof structures. Rails and fasteners must meet safety requirements. Suppliers offer various features such as rails that fold down when not in use.

Roof edge protection may be offered in the form of nets and screens. Nets can be used in conjunction with rails to minimize fall distances. They must be capable of supporting the maximum weight that can fall into it. Net and screen barriers are supplied in number of styles and configurations.

Safety lines and harnesses are widely used in roof work. Harness systems can be purchased at local home improvement stores. Roof brackets are portable scaffolding systems used in residential roof work. All types of fall prevention equipment are available from safety equipment providers.

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