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Toolbox Talk No. 13 - Skylights and Roof Openings

Toolbox Talk No. 13 - Skylights and Roof Openings

Skylights are a beautiful addition to any building. They provide natural lighting, lower electricity usage, and have been shown to improve mental health for those working or living inside the building. Although there are many benefits, skylights and other roof openings pose a major risk to construction workers. In fact, in 2001, 58 workers died falling through skylights, existing roof openings, and existing floor openings. Many more were injured. Construction workers must follow OSHA guidelines to protect themselves and others. Read on to learn about how to keep yourself and fellow workers safe.

The Basics of Skylights and Roof Openings

Skylights may not seem like an opening in a roof because they are covered with plastic or glass, but those materials are easily broken. An opening on a roof is defined as anything 2’ wide or larger. All roof openings must be either concealed by a cover or secured by a guardrail on all exposed sides.

If you choose to use a cover or a screen, it must be able to withstand twice the weight of employees and materials on the roof. The screen must be secured to prevent weather or equipment from dislodging them. These covers must be able to stand out amongst the roof, so they should be color-coded or painted with the words “HOLE” or “COVER.”

Skylights can be almost any shape or size, so it may seem like a hassle to cover or guard a skylight or opening, but both guardrails and covers can be customized to fit any skylight or opening. They can also be secured in a way that causes no damage to the roof. You may also use railings or guardrails. Guardrails, if chosen as the method, should be tall enough to be noticeable to any employee on the roof. Whatever your safety manager selects, remember to inspect the system regularly to ensure proper installation and maintenance.

Another great way to protect yourself and your fellow workers is by using personal fall arrest systems. These systems are incredibly reliable and offer peace of mind when working on roofs near openings.

Skylight Safety Review OSHA
We recommend that supervisors on every job site create and administer a written plan regarding fall protection. It is essential to plan safety procedures before ever stepping foot on a roof. The roof should be inspected for fall hazards by a qualified, competent person before any job.

Tips and Tricks

• Remember safety procedures when covering or guarding a hole. If you can’t remember or would like retraining, ask your supervisor.
• Use a personal fall arrest system when working near an unguarded or uncovered opening. This is especially important when installing a cover or guardrail system.
• If you find an unguarded or uncovered opening, tell your supervisor immediately and do not go within 10 feet of the hazard until instructed how to do so safely.
• Inspect the worksite for possible fall hazards and openings before starting every job.
• NEVER sit on, lean against, or step on a roof opening.

Thank you so much for reviewing the safety procedures for holes, skylights, and all roof openings with us today. Falls are a leading cause of death in construction, and we want to do all we can to provide accurate information to ensure your safety. Please share this post if you know someone it could help, or add your comments on how you stay safe around roof openings below!

Wishing you a happy and safe workplace,


The WRYKER Safety Team

Previous article Toolbox Talk No. 14 - Heat Stress
Next article Toolbox Talk No. 12 - Hand Tools: Inspections & Maintenance

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