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USGNN Original StorySkylight Fall Protection Task Group Works to Clarify Scope

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association's (AAMA) Skylight Council's Skylight Fall Protection Task Group held a conference call last week to review and revise its scope, in an effort to present the scope to ASTM's task group for the "Specification of Human Impact Criteria, with Procedure for Testing and Rating Plastic-Glazed Unit Skylights and Related Products used on Commercial Walkable Roofs for Fall-Through Resistance." ASTM currently is in the process of developing a standard for skylight safety. (CLICK HERE for related article from USGlass magazine.)

"The intent of this document is to prevent a human from falling onto a surface below," said John Westerfield of CrystaLite, who chairs the AAMA group.

The scope excludes single-family houses from its language. " … It would be the responsibility of the homeowner to warn anyone who's going to be on the roof," Westerfield said, to those questioning the exclusion.

Another unidentified task group member noted that the exemption likely has to do with the number of recorded cases of skylight falls.

"There's never been a case reported of anyone falling through a residential skylight," he said.

Jack Riley of Arkema, however, offered another perspective-on the scope as a whole.

"It's kind of going back to the scope, but shouldn't there be some type of disclaimer in here, like 'no skylight will offer protection for people in all possibilities?'" he asked. "There's no way you can make a skylight 100-percent fall-proof, because you never know what kind of conditions are going to come up."

However, Westerfield advised he felt the building owner and/or contractor would still maintain responsibility for safety.

"I don't think this is replacing the responsibility of the building owner or contractor for providing fall protection," he said.

One task group member noted that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's (NIOSH) document 2004-156, "Preventing Falls of Workers through Skylights and Roof and Floor Openings," addresses the responsibility matter. (CLICK HERE for more information on this document.)

Another task group member suggested that perhaps laminated glass manufacturers should also be involved in this part of the process-particularly with relation to weathering and how it might affect a skylight's strength.

Westerfield brought up the fact that another option is utilizing screens or security grilles, but that these may rust easily in a marine climate, causing them to lose strength quickly.

"There are a lot of other things that need to be thrown into this weathering area," said another member.

Westerfield planned to present the revised, still-in-progress scope, to the skylight council, and to the ASTM group this week.

Many in the call were in agreement, though, that there's very little data at this point on how many people have fallen from skylights, how far they've fallen, who was injured, etc.

"It's very frustrating to have these instances brought up and not have good data," said one task group member.

Westerfield was scheduled to present the group's work so far to the ASTM group yesterday via conference call. Westerfield was unavailable for comment at press time.

Stay tuned to™ for further updates as they become available.

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