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KS KCO 6820

The Hidden Dangers of Unprotected Skylights

As urban landscapes continue to evolve, so do the architectural designs that shape our cities. Rooftop installations, such as skylights, have become increasingly popular, allowing natural light to flood interior spaces and creating a visually appealing ambiance. However, as beautiful as these features may be, skylights can pose potential dangers if not properly safeguarded by fall protection systems

Many people incorrectly assume that the most dangerous fall hazard is the edge of the roof. While very dangerous, people instinctively know to stay away from the edge. Skylights are more dangerous because they are often in the walking path of the people on the roof and many do not see them as a danger.


Skylight Cover

Accidental Falls

The most alarming danger of uncovered skylights is the likelihood of falling. These skylights, particularly when unmarked or unprotected, may be mistakenly viewed as solid surfaces. This presents a significant risk to workers or anyone needing to access the roof. If a person inadvertently steps on or falls through an unprotected skylight, it could result in serious injuries or even death.

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Damage Due to Weather Conditions

Skylights, much like any other part of your roof, are vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. They can be damaged by hailstorms, heavy rainfall, strong winds, or snowfall. An uncovered skylight is more prone to shattering or cracking, leading to potential leaks and subsequent water damage within your home.

Sklight Screen Warning Label

Exposure to UV Rays

While sunlight is generally enjoyable, it's crucial to remember that sun rays also carry harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV rays can cause discoloration of furniture, carpets, and other household items. At the moment of manufacture they may have been strong enough to withstand the impact of a fall. However, UV degradation breaks down the polymers in the dome and it becomes brittle over a relatively short amount of time.

  • Most Skylights have a Danger Risk of Fall label on them – but it too is most likely sun-faded! 
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Strategies to Protect Your Skylights

Despite these potential hazards, there are several ways to alleviate these risks and safely enjoy the benefits of skylights.

  • Protective Covers for Skylights
    Skylight covers or guards provide an effective safety barrier, preventing accidents and falls while still allowing the inflow of natural light. Kee Cover Skylight Screens provide an effective solution for covering unprotected roof lights without blocking out the light they are supposed to let into a building. Kee Dome is a modular system designed specifically to prevent falls through skylights, roof lights and dome lights.
  • Routine Maintenance
    Undoubtedly, periodic inspection and maintenance are vital for the safety and durability of your skylights. Professional inspections can help detect and rectify potential problems before they escalate into major issues or hazards.

While uncovered skylights can pose significant dangers, with appropriate precautions and regular maintenance, these architectural features can be enjoyed safely. Safety should always be paramount in your home or workplace. Don't hesitate to seek professional advice if you're unsure about the right safety measures for your skylights.

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FAQ's About Skylights

What are some potential dangers associated with unprotected skylights?

Unprotected skylights may present risks such as accidental falls, weather-induced damage, exposure to UV rays, and reduced energy efficiency.

Is my skylight fall rated?

Probably not. At the moment of manufacture they may have been strong enough to withstand the impact of a fall. Skylights can become brittle over a relatively short amount of time due to UV degradation breaking down the polymers in the dome. Most skylights have a Danger Risk of Fall label on them but the sign is most likely sun-faded.

How might an unprotected skylight pose a fall hazard?

Unprotected skylights, especially if not clearly marked, can be mistaken for solid surfaces. This can lead to serious accidents if someone inadvertently steps on or falls through the skylight, causing severe injuries or even fatalities.

What are the consequences of weather damage on unprotected skylights?

Unprotected skylights are vulnerable to damage from extreme weather conditions, such as hailstorms, heavy rainfall, strong winds, or snow. Damage can lead to cracked and broken skylights, which could cause subsequent water damage.

What are some strategies to ensure the safety and efficiency of skylights?

Protective measures include installing skylight covers or guards, Additionally, routine inspection and maintenance are vital for the safety and durability of skylights.

How does regular maintenance contribute to skylight safety?

Regular inspection and maintenance can help identify and rectify potential problems with skylights before they escalate into major issues or hazards. It is crucial for the longevity and safety of skylights.

Who should be consulted if one is unsure about the appropriate safety measures for their skylights?

If unsure about the correct safety measures for skylights, it is advisable to seek professional advice. Our team of Fall Protection experts at Kee Safety is here to help answer any questions you might have on protecting skylights from hazards.


About the Author

Dan Huntington

Daniel Huntington is an experienced sales and technical product trainer with a demonstrated history of working in the Fall Protection Industry. As a Fall Protection Industry Expert, he is formally trained in OSHA fall protection standards and risk assessment. He is a respected compliance educator and trainer in rooftop safety, presenting at the 2019 ASSP Expo for the International Society of Fall Protection (ISFP) where he facilitated a course on improving safety for people working at height.

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