Working at height shouldn’t be dangerous. A safe, reliable, and well-designed rooftop walkway will reduce the chance of an accident.

Anyone with responsibility for site management, including designers, should prioritize safety for workers at height. Designers must eliminate foreseeable hazards to safety and health and take steps to control or reduce those risks where possible.

If regular access to a roof is required, the law requires safe transit to allow for essential works, inspections, and maintenance.

We have some tips and tricks to help you design and maintain safe rooftop walkways.

Materials

Many commercial roofs are little more than fragile membranes and substrates placed over the actual building. These fragile shells are designed to protect the building from the weather but have a limited weight.

This will be the main consideration when selecting materials to create a system for rooftop walkways. They should be light and strong with a low weight. Popular materials for roof walkways include PVC, aluminum, and glass-reinforced plastic. They are lightweight and modular and can withstand extreme weather conditions such as UV exposure.

Avoid timber

Wood, despite its many natural advantages, is not the best material for rooftop walkways. Even if treated, timber can easily become slippery if it becomes wet. Slipping on a roof could cause serious injury. Wood can also be affected by weather conditions that cause it to deteriorate and rot. The wooden walkways that are located on the roofs of buildings could become dangerously deteriorated between inspections and expose staff to injury.

Measure the load-bearing capability

Rooftop walkways should not only be light but also be able to support the weight of foot traffic as well as large units like air conditioners. Every roof walkway system must comply with the load-bearing requirements. This test is done to determine if the material you select is suitable for the task.

Fitting

Plan a route. Roof walkways are a way to make sure users have a clear and safe path. The walkways allow easy access to all parts of the roof. A walkway around the roof ensures people don’t have to be there for too long.

To ensure your route meets the needs and wants of everyone who uses it, consult maintenance crews and other stakeholders before you design it.

Ensure safe drainage

Falls from height can easily result from slips or trips if they are on roofs. Because pooling water is often left exposed to the elements, and it is not always checked regularly, it can be a dangerous hazard. Pooling water can not only be dangerous but it can also cause damage over time to your roof.

Drainage is a key consideration when designing walkways. You can either use gratings or create gully channels that connect to the rest of your roof drainage system.

Make sure that fixings do not damage the roof

Roof walkways can be used to protect vulnerable roofs. When choosing a walkway system, be careful. Fitting it to a roof that is damaged or leaking can be counterproductive.

The walkway should be able to clamp to the roof profile without needing any sheeting. This applies to the walkway as well as any handrails. Some walkways have handrails that are an integral part of the walkway. This prevents water from getting to the roof sheet.

Install handrails

It is important to protect roof pitches and roofing structures that are fragile. Handrails can also be fitted to walkways for extra safety on narrow surfaces and slope greater than 10 degrees.

Aftercare & maintenance

Although roofs are designed to be strong and reliable, there can still be accidents. Safety is key when you are working on roof maintenance. You should never work alone.

Flexible season maintenance

Most roof walkways are intended to assist roof maintenance. Therefore, it is important to make sure the walkway doesn’t need too much maintenance. The best materials will make it easy to maintain.

When it comes time to do maintenance, it is important to be aware of seasonal impacts. The spring is the best time to assess the extent of damage that winter may have done. You should lookout for signs of slip hazards and examine the condition of the walkways.

Do any major maintenance before it gets colder. In colder months, it is much more difficult to repair walkways. In winter, it is not necessary to repair walkways unless an emergency arises. You should inspect the integrity of the walkway and roof after severe weather.

The walkway system allows you to easily remove and replace individual parts without having to dismantle the entire walkway.

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