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Skylight Fall Protection

Skylight Fall Protection – Does My Building Need It?

Skylight Fall Protection – Skylights are a popular architectural feature in many commercial buildings, offering natural light and aesthetic appeal. However, they also present a unique set of safety challenges that can’t be overlooked. From the risk of falls to the need for burglar protection, ensuring your skylights are secure is not just a good practice—it’s often a legal requirement. In this article, we’ll delve into the importance of skylight safety, explore the regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and discuss practical steps you can take to protect both people and property.

Do Skylights Need Fall Protection?

The short answer is yes, skylights absolutely require fall protection. While skylights are designed to let in light, they are not always built to withstand the weight of a person or object falling onto them. In fact, skylights are considered a “hole” in the roof by OSHA standards, making them a potential fall hazard. The risks are not just theoretical; there have been numerous incidents where individuals have fallen through skylights, leading to severe injuries or even fatalities. Therefore, it’s crucial to install proper fall protection measures to mitigate these risks and ensure the safety of anyone who might be working or walking near skylights.

What are the OSHA Rules About Skylights?

Understanding and complying with OSHA regulations is not just a matter of avoiding penalties; it’s about ensuring a safe environment. According to OSHA, any skylight that is 4 feet or more above a lower level must have some form of fall protection. This can range from covers and guardrail systems to personal fall arrest systems. Failure to comply can result in hefty fines and, in extreme cases, legal action in the form of law suits.

Specific OSHA requirements include:

  • Covers must be capable of supporting at least twice the maximum intended load.
  • Guardrail systems should withstand a force of at least 200 pounds applied in a downward or outward direction.
  • Personal fall arrest systems must meet particular criteria, including fall clearance and strength requirements.

By adhering to these rules, you not only avoid legal repercussions but also contribute to a safer work environment.

Commercial Skylight Safety

How Do You Protect Skylights?

When it comes to skylight safety, there are several effective methods to ensure adequate fall protection. Here are some of the most commonly used:

Skylight Screens

These are wired mesh screens that surround the skylight, preventing accidental falls while still allowing light to pass through. They come in various styles and sizes to fit most skylight types.

Skylight Guardrails

These are galvanized railing systems designed to create a barrier around the skylight. They use non-penetrating railing, which means they can be installed without damaging the roof structure.

Personal Fall Protection Systems

These systems include harnesses and lanyards that can arrest a fall, although they require additional training and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Each of these methods has its pros and cons. For instance, screens and guardrails can be left in place with no further action required by the worker, while personal fall protection systems require ongoing training and commitment to safety protocols.

How Much Weight Can a Skylight Hold?

One of the most critical factors to consider when discussing skylight safety is the weight capacity of the skylight itself. Not all skylights are created equal, and understanding the weight limitations is essential for ensuring safety. According to OSHA guidelines, any cover for a hole in a walking-working surface must be capable of supporting at least twice the maximum intended load that may be imposed on it at any given time.

It’s crucial to consult with manufacturers or qualified professionals to determine the weight capacity of your skylights. Knowing this information can guide you in selecting the appropriate fall protection measures and can also be crucial in the event of snow or other additional weight on the roof.

How Do You Secure Skylights?

Securing your skylights goes beyond just fall protection; it also involves safeguarding them against potential burglars. While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind, skylights can be an entry point for intruders if not adequately secured.

Burglar Bars

One effective way to add an extra layer of security is by installing burglar bars below the skylight. These bars are designed to withstand significant force and can deter potential intruders from gaining access through the skylight.

Locking Mechanisms

Some modern skylights come with built-in locking mechanisms that can be engaged when the building is unoccupied, providing an additional layer of security.

Reinforced Glass

Using skylights made of reinforced or laminated glass can also add to the security, making it more difficult for intruders to break through.

By taking these additional security measures, you not only protect your property but also add an extra layer of safety for anyone working or walking near the skylights.

Industrial Skylight OSHA Rules

Real World Consequences of Ignoring Skylight Safety

Ignoring skylight safety is a gamble that no business should take. The consequences can be severe, both in terms of human lives and financial repercussions. There have been instances where companies faced significant law suits due to accidents resulting from inadequate skylight safety measures. These legal battles not only tarnish the reputation of the business but also lead to substantial financial losses.

Moreover, the emotional and psychological impact on employees and their families can be devastating. A safe work environment is not just a legal requirement but a moral obligation.


Skylight safety is a critical aspect that should never be overlooked in any commercial setting. From understanding OSHA regulations to implementing effective fall protection measures, every step counts in ensuring a safe and secure environment. Ignoring these safety protocols can lead to severe consequences, both legally and morally. Therefore, it’s imperative to take proactive steps to secure your skylights adequately.

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