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Skylight Fall Task Group establishes scope at AAMA conference

Post Time:Nov 12,2013Classify:Industry NewsView:38

The Skylight Fall Protection Task Group met for the first time June 2 during the American Architectural Manufacturers Association’s National Summer Conference in Hershey, Pa., June 1-4. The group agreed upon its scope, which reads: Investigate and monitor the issue of fall protection related to skylights with an initial focus of participating in the development of a human impact test standard. ASTM E06.51.25 is being developed to establish fall resistance criteria and test methods that simulate falls for the purpose of preventing a human from falling through a roof opening more than 4 feet above a surface. Task group chairman John Westerfield, marketing, Web development, code compliance officer at CrystaLite Inc., Everett, Wash., said those involved in the skylight industry use a swimming pool to explain their perspective. “It’s reasonable to expect a child to wander by a pool, fall in and drown,” Westerfield said. Thus, laws exist requiring fences around pools. “But you don’t wander by a hole on a roof,” he said. “You have to go through great lengths to get on a roof. They may be unaware that a skylight is such a danger. Teenagers are not granted access on a roof. They got there by their own cleverness.” Building owners protect access to the roofs for their own security reasons, he said. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Washington, D.C., requires a only 200-pound static load when it comes to the testing of skylights. Westerfield said the task group agrees that it’s not the same as a human falling into a skylight. Quality Testing Inc. of Everett, Wash., used a 200-pound load that was put into a sack and dropped from six or seven feet a few times. “Other skylight manufacturers have been longing for an ASTM standard to be developed so we can say, ‘Yes, it’s been testing through this criteria,’ ” Westerfield said. The task group was formed to get the voice of manufacturers involved in the process with the American Society for Testing and Materials, West Conshohocken, Pa. J. Nigel Ellis, owner of Ellis Full Safety Solutions, Wilmington, Del., gave a presentation, showing a few solutions for covering holes on a roof during installation. One idea was a portable screen on long poles that can be easily lifted on and off an opening. Ellis was invited to the meeting because he is involved with ASTM. Ellis had statistics that showed 36 fatalities in 2006 from people falling through holes on roofs. About 20 trades go on commercial roofs to do work, he said. Skylights are lumped into those statistics, although the death might have occurred from a hole before a skylight was installed or from a hole intended for another product. Westerfield said the OSHA already has three measures directed at openings while workers are on a roof: a guardrail system, a screen over the hole or a harness system attached to the worker. Since tens of millions of skylights exist, the instances that include someone actually falling through a skylight are minimal, he said. The final standard could be damaging to those involved in the overhead glass glazing industry, thus the interest to be involved in the process, Westerfield said. “If it is written into the code, everyone will have to abide by it whether they like it or think it’s fair,” Westerfield said. “We want to make sure it’s fair while providing necessary fall protection criteria.” AAMA, Schaumburg, Ill., will have its National Fall Conference Sept. 21-14 in San Antonio. Reformatting standard AAMA members also made plans to develop a new format for the next edition of the AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440 window and door standard. At a task group session focusing on the joint standard, planning for the next round of international code updates, Steve Fronek, Apogee Enterprises, Minneapolis, presented a change in format designed to make the document easier to use. His proposal, which the group voted to recommend, would divide the document into sections covering residential-type (R and LC) products; commercial (CW and AW) products; doors; and unit skylights and tubular daylighting devices. The format also would establish placeholder sections for curtain wall, window wall, storefront and sloped glazing. Within the various sections, Fronek proposed separating requirements that apply to the U.S. only, those applying to Canada only and those applying to both. —By Matt Slovick, editor-in-chief, Glass Magazine John Swanson contributed to this article, editor and associate publisher, Window & Door.Share this article:

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