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Access Hatches that Meet OSHA Fall Protection Regulations

August 28, 2012

An access hatch provides a point of access for the roof in factories, public buildings, commercial buildings and many more places.  Ladders, stairs or other means of access are used to gain entry to the roof from the hatch.  These hatches are used for maintenance workers and anyone who needs to gain access to the roof for installing equipment, removing equipment or to complete routine maintenance for equipment located on the roof of large buildings.  To help eliminate accidents and injuries from these access hatches, OSHA has developed regulations for companies to follow when designing or installing a roof hatch.

Access hatches are available in a variety of sizes and alloys. One leaf and two leaf panels are available depending on how the hatch is planning on being used, whether equipment will frequently be changed or replaced.  Available alloys are galvanized steel, aluminum and stainless steel.  An aluminum access hatch provides a lightweight material that is naturally corrosion resistant.  Stainless steel and galvanized steel access hatches also provide corrosion resistance in wet environments.

When designing an access hatch, a few key things have to be taken into account.  Maintenance professionals may need to open the hatch while holding tools or other equipment in their hands.  The hatch must be able to be opened fluidly and safely to provide safe operation and to prevent slamming of the lid.  The lid of the access hatch should also have springs that allow the lid to be lifted no matter the weight of the cover.  Lift arms that include a locking mechanism should also be included in the design.  This will prevent the lid from locking the worker out on the roof.  Manufacturers are also offering options for access hatches that help keep heat and air from escaping or being allowed into the building.

Access hatches without any protection around them can lead to accidental slips and falls.  OSHA approved guard railing systems can help prevent these slip and fall accidents by providing a railing around each side of the hatch.  The opening may have a swinging gate or means of protecting the entrance to allow for workers to leave the hatch open, reducing access hatch related accidents.

Adding a slip resistant surface to an access hatch can also reduce slips and falls if the cover is walked on.  Non-slip surfaces can increase traction in wet environments, helping to increase safety in situations where rainwater or snow may be present.  SlipNOT® Metal Safety Flooring can apply their patented slip resistant surface to existing metal access hatch covers or to new covers.  The surface is 100% grit free and is bonded to the surface of the cover at over 4,000 psi.  Since it is a metal plasma spray, you do not have to worry about the surface flaking off or chipping off.  SlipNOT® products have been keeping workers on their feet for years in the most demanding environments found in steel mills, manufacturing plants and various facilities around the country.

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