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Roof Safety: Preventing Open Holes

The primary concern with open holes on roofs is the risk of falls. Whether it’s a temporary opening during construction or a permanent opening for rooftop access, workers and visitors can accidentally step or fall through these holes, resulting in severe injuries or even fatalities. Unprotected holes can also become tripping hazards, especially if they are not marked or covered. Additionally, if the opening is near a drainage system or prone to water accumulation, it can create slippery conditions, increasing the chances of accidents.

  • Before any work commences on the roof, a thorough risk assessment must be conducted to identify potential hazards, including open holes. By assessing the risks, appropriate control measures can be implemented.
  • Installing sturdy guardrails and barriers around open holes is an effective way to prevent falls. These protective measures should be installed around all openings, including skylights, vents, and access points.
    • Guardrails must meet the required height and strength specifications to withstand the force of an accidental impact.
  • Temporary or permanent covers, screens, or gratings should be used to secure openings when not in use.
    • These should be able to support a person’s weight and prevent accidental falls. It’s essential to ensure that covers are securely fastened in order to avoid dislodgement or unauthorized removal.
  • Visible warning signs should be placed around the roof to alert workers and visitors to open holes.
    • These signs should be accompanied by appropriate symbols and instructions to promote understanding and adherence to safety protocols.
  • All personnel working on the roof should receive comprehensive training on rooftop safety.

Best Practices:

  • Regular Inspections:
    • Frequent roof inspections should be conducted to identify any new or unforeseen openings or hazards. Inspections should be performed by qualified personnel who can promptly address any issues found.
  • Reporting and Prompt Repairs:
    • Workers need to report any open holes or damaged protective measures immediately. Timely repairs or replacements should be carried out to maintain a safe working environment.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
    • Adequate PPE, such as safety harnesses and non-slip footwear, should be provided to workers who may be exposed to open holes during their tasks. Proper PPE can significantly reduce the severity of injuries in case of a fall.


This article is provided solely as a reference tool to be used for information purposes only. The information in this article shall not be construed or interpreted as providing legal or any other advice. The information material does not amend the provisions of any insurance policy issued by CompSource Mutual. It is not a representation that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any such policy. Coverage depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss, all applicable policy provisions, and any applicable law.

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