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High Rise Building Escapes Costly Repairs with a Roof Barrier System

High Rise Building Escapes Costly Repairs with a Roof Barrier System

Place de Ville high-rise buildings, located in downtown Ottawa, are made up of a few office towers, hotels, and a cinema. The buildings are also linked via an underground shopping complex. Place de Ville C is one of the tallest office buildings in Ottawa, and was referred to as Ottawa’s Toronto Dominion Centre and Montreal’s Place Ville Marie.

Quick & Easy roof guardrail Installation

The facility maintenance team’s primary concern was looking for a non-penetrating self-ballasted rooftop guardrail and barrier system that is quick and easy for the contractor to install. They had originally specified a roof safety guardrail that required to be fastened to the rooftop, and would not only take multiple days to set up but also require a crane rental to bring the material up to the rooftop.

architectural roof guardrail

Self-Ballasted Roof Barrier System

Our team proposed the non-penetrating self-ballasted 5003 series RoofBarrier system.

  • Its modular design made the solution extremely easy to transport.
  • The design will also ensure the installation process is quick and easy for the subcontractors, reducing lead time and labor costs.
  • Its lightweight construction allowed for the roof guardrail system to be brought to the roof via the building’s service elevators, eliminating the need for a crane rental in downtown Ottawa.
  • With the 5003 RoofBarrier guardrails being a self-ballasted solution, there was no need for the unit to be fastened to the rooftop. Eliminating the need to make holes into the roof membrane that would have required costly repairs to reseal the roof.

Deciding between a non-penetrating roof barrier and one that is fastened to the roof? Here are five reasons why you would select a non-penetrating roof guardrail solution.

Rooftop Safety Trends – Raising the Bar on Rooftop Safety Compliance

Rooftop Safety Trends – Raising the Bar on Rooftop Safety Compliance

Canadian Roofing Contractors Association interviewed Vernon Ghinn, our VP of roof safety specialists, to chat about the future of height safety and its impact on regulations.


The building design process includes many considerations for serving the occupants working or living within it. And often, the technology required to optimize the building’s safety, comfort, and efficiency end up being installed on the roof. These components may be necessary, but any piece of equipment added to the rooftop poses a degree of risk for those who may need to work in that space. And with rooftop footprints and configurations in constant flux, safety considerations cannot fall through the cracks.

“Like every building component, roof footprint, features, and conditions can evolve; these changes can introduce challenges with accessing equipment,” says Vernon Ghinn, a roof access and safety specialist at Skyline Group. “That’s why rooftop safety isn’t a set it and forget it responsibility; it is something that should be reviewed and improved upon quarterly to ensure you’re staying in compliance and keeping everyone safe.”


Working at height comes with numerous risks. More and more, those risks include having to navigate access points (e.g., ladders or hatches) or rooftop equipment (e.g., HVAC systems, ducts, solar panels) that have been installed throughout the roof and – more frequently – near roof edges.

For example, says Ghinn, “At times, rooftop units are installed at the edge because that happens to be the quickest and easiest location for the installers to place the unit. However, the challenge lies in servicing those units, as a safety solution will be required to create a safe perimeter and working environment.”

Roofing layouts can also pose risks. For instance, flat industrial and commercial roofs can become slippery to walk on when wet depending on the roofing membrane.
Added to these traditional hazards are the ones that appear over time. For example, building upgrades that affect the roof structure and design can also impact its elevations, requiring new roof safety equipment and considerations.

“That’s why it is important to understand the future state of your roof and how the roof is being accessed,” says another safety rep with Skyline. “Corridors are provided inside the building for safe access, so the same consideration should be given to the safety personnel required to keep the building running while accessing the roof.”

Another trend impacting roof safety is that rooftops are becoming more crowded. As land prices rise and available space in populated areas decreases, organizations optimize their investment by making use of their open space. Some of that focus is being turned to rooftops, where building operators turn their rooftop into a publicly accessed area (e.g., a garden or patio) or invest in energy-efficient technologies (e.g., green roofs or solar panels). The result is a very busy environment that requires safer access to all roof areas and increased awareness of common rooftop safety hazards.

“Ultimately, it is important that your roof access and safety solutions stay up to speed with your roof as it goes through different transformations,” adds a Skyline rep.

Roof Guardrail


As building envelopes adapt, so do safety compliance obligations. This is also true of roof and height safety standards, which are constantly adapting to reflect emerging hazards.

“The number of roof fall-related injuries is alarming, so it’s only natural that local and national standards are getting stricter,” says the Skyline safety rep, explaining, “Today, more and more third-party service providers have their own safety guidelines that prevent employees from working on roofs unless the right safety equipment and protocols are in place.”

Aligning with such standards is a critical challenge, especially since failing to keep a building compliant or ensure an installation meets local safety guidelines can lead to severe injuries and costly liabilities. As such, it’s important to recognize hazards as they emerge and never lose sight of one’s safety responsibilities.

“It’s about accessing the roof safely, while working in a hazard-free environment, in order to get back down from the roof safely,” says Ghinn, adding, “The fact is that the number of roof fall-related injuries is alarming, meaning there is room to improve on safety. The good news, though, is that the risks we’re seeing out there today can be mitigated with the right partners and height safety solutions that are readily available.”


No doubt, modern rooftop hazards require modern safety solutions. For example, says the Skyline rep: “We see too many access ladders that are cut short at the bottom, requiring an extension ladder to gain access to the actual roof access ladder itself. This is often done to restrict roof ladder access to the public, but climbing a small ladder to grab the roof access ladder and then climb onto it is simply dangerous. That’s why we developed a lockable gate to block the first five-plus feet of steps and restrict unwanted access.”

The ability to manufacture ladders, guardrails, roof catwalks, and various other rooftop safety solutions in modular sections is also beneficial for today’s contractors. These solutions can be transported to the roof via a service elevator versus renting a crane, while also being installed in a fraction of the time. All while offering the capability to customize a solution that best fits the needs of the roof and local guidelines.

“The savings become quite substantial for all parties,” says Skyline’s rep, explaining, “Our non-penetrating permanent guardrail system, for example, is designed to be modular, making it quick and simple to install without needing to fasten into the existing roof frame. This eliminates the need to reseal the roof membrane for old or newly warranted roofs after an installation.”

Protecting workers and staying in compliance means understanding your rooftop hazards before heading up onto the roof, while having a solution in place to mitigate the risks as they unfold. After all, adds Ghinn, “Nobody should discover safety by accident.”

Roof Guardrail

Creating A Safe Catwalk on A Crowded Hospital Rooftop

Creating A Safe Catwalk on A Crowded Hospital Rooftop

Ottawa Medical Centre

For more than one hundred years, The Royal has been a community landmark and a beacon of hope for those needing health care. In February 1910, the first tuberculosis patient was admitted to the Lady Grey Hospital, known in the early days as “the San”. In 1969, the facility was renamed the Royal Ottawa Hospital (ROH).

Reviewing Roof Hazards

Like any medical center, the roof of the ROH is crowded with multiple rooftop units that make it challenging to navigate the roof safely. On this roof, the HVAC units were installed towards the center of the rooftop, more than 6 feet away from the edge. With the various gas lines, ducts and other RTUs, the only passage from the roof access point to the HVAC units was a walkway close to the edge of the roof. With the HVAC units requiring routine maintenance, the 50-foot catwalk located adjacent to the roof edge became quite busy with maintenance personnel. With the catwalk being too close to the roof’s edge, a safety barrier and guardrail were specified by the contractor.

Skyline Roof

An Upgraded Rooftop Catwalk System

The contractor working on repairing sections of the roof reached out to our team of rooftop safety compliance experts to learn how a permanent, yet non-fixed, guardrail solution can be installed. The RoofBarrier 5001 Series is a self-ballasted permanent rooftop guardrail that is non-penetrating. With the galvanized steel safety rail system not requiring any penetration of the roof membrane, no further repairs to the roof would be needed. Ultimately, saving time and money for both the contractor and the Royal Ottawa Hospital. Our guardrail systems are also shipped in prefabricated modular sections, creating an efficient and quick installation with no on-site welding, further reducing on-site labor and installation costs.

Steel Access Ladders vs Aluminum Access Ladders – Which is Better

Steel Access Ladders vs Aluminum Access Ladders – Which is Better

The question around purchasing a steel or aluminum roof access ladder is a common one. Let’s look at the differences between the two materials as it relates to safety & compliance, lead time, installation process, costs, durability and climbing experience.

Roof Safety & Compliance

From a compliance standpoint, you are indeed still in compliance with either an aluminum or steel roof access ladder. If it is constructed in the manner stated by your local safety guidelines and includes corrosion-resistant protection (applicable to only steel ladders), your roof ladder should be compliant. When it comes to aluminum access ladders there is no need to worry about including a protective film, as the material itself is corrosion resistant. You also won’t need to maintain an aluminum ladder over the years by reapplying that protective layer/paint, as you would for a steel ladder.

Unsure if your roof meets local height safety requirements? Ask about our complimentary roof hazard audit program.

Lead Times

Lead times vary for both steel and aluminum ladders, although because steel ladders require a protective coating, it isn’t uncommon to see longer lead times. The added protective coating process will extend the lead time of your order, making it difficult for a quick turnaround when an urgent safety solution is required.


Have you ever worked with aluminum? Your local contractor may prefer a commercial aluminum roof access ladder because of the following reasons.

  • An aluminum ladder can easily be brought to the roof via the maintenance elevator as it is extremely lightweight. There is no need to rent a crane to transport your materials to the roof, or close roads and your building’s parking area. Ultimately, drastically reducing transport and installation-related costs.
  • With aluminum being much lighter than steel, it makes the installation process that much easier and quicker, requiring less labor hours. Yielding reduced overall installation costs.
  • Aluminum fixed ladders also subject less load to the wall and roof surface. A steel roof ladder may require the surface it is being fixed to, to be reinforced.
  • Cutting aluminum on-site, in order to ensure an exact fit, is quick & easy.

At Skyline our aluminum access ladders are built in modular sections, making it extremely easy to handle, ship and install on-site. If repairs are required you can easily replace the modular piece versus the whole ladder.

Durability & Maintenance

Due to steel ladders being heavier than aluminum ladders, there is a perception that they are much more rugged. This is somewhat true, generally, a steel roof access ladder will better handle a transport truck backing into it. But keep in mind, for what the ladder is intended to be used for, there is no real need for such a heavy and rugged solution. Their weight is also considered to be a major disadvantage. In order to install steel ladders and move them around the roof, you’ll have to recruit help. Or rent a costly crane to bring the material to the roof.

We also tend to forget that steel ladders require routine maintenance. In order for a steel rooftop access ladder to stay looking brand new and keep its integrity, it needs to be maintained regularly. Outdoor ladders are subject to corrosive environments, think about the winter conditions we experience in Canada. As a result, building owners and facility maintenance teams do not want to deal with the yearly required maintenance to upkeep the protective paint and coating on a steel ladder.

Climbing Experience

We often find that fixed steel ladders are supplied with 1/4 inch rungs, offering limited traction (especially during rain and snow), resulting in an uncomfortable climb. Our aluminum ladders are manufactured with a wide profile serrated rung, making your climb to the roof comfortable and safer with the added grippy surface.

Aluminum vs Steel - Which Is Better?

If we look at which ladder is safer, well both materials would be considered safe, assuming they are designed to meet your local safety guidelines. Both ladder types offer an excellent solution for accessing your roof. That being said, you are most likely reading this article because you are looking for a solution to not just get the job done but meet compliance requirements today and tomorrow in a cost-effective manner.

Here at Skyline we are roof safety specialists that focus on aluminum ladders due to their ease of installation, flexibility in design, and overall reduced costs in installation and maintenance. When considering the above categories, it is the material that excels in each category.

Working on an industrial or commercial roof project? Or looking to schedule a complimentary rooftop safety lunch & learn for your team? Call our team of rooftop safety experts to help navigate our array of aluminum ladder configurations.

An Upgraded HVAC System Requires Improved Rooftop Safety

An Upgraded HVAC System Requires Improved Rooftop Safety

Safety Culture

TELUS is a dynamic, world-leading communications technology company providing wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video, and security services. Their long-standing commitment to putting customers first fuels every aspect of their business, making them distinct in customer service excellence and loyalty.

Requiring Safe Access to A Small Rooftop

There is a misconception at times that a smaller rooftop can be easier to maintain and gain safe access to. One challenge amongst all rooftops with a limited footprint is that many of the HVAC units, and other RTUs, are within 6 feet of the roof’s edge. Thus, requiring a permanent guardrail or barrier to be installed to prevent the risk of a height-related injury. With Telus looking to upgrade its HVAC system, an updated safety solution was required.
roofbarrier rooftop guardrail system

Improved Rooftop Safety With A Guardrail System

Due to our knowledge and experience in providing height safety solutions that meet the communication industry’s needs, our team of safety specialists were consulted. The Trail office in British Columbia purchased two 5001 RoofBarrier systems; one straight 30-foot linear section with 4-foot outriggers and one 20’ x 25’ L section with 4-foot outriggers. Here is what made our roof barrier and guardrail system the primary choice for this site.


  • The 5001 RoofBarrier is a modular solution, making it quick and easy to install and transport to the roof.
  • The safety guardrail is manufactured in galvanized steel, minimizing the risk of corrosion.
  • With our roof safety solutions being stocked and ready to ship, we were able to meet the contractor’s timeline to install the upgraded HVAC system.
  • Our non-penetrating self-ballasted solution meant that the roof membrane would not require repairs. On the other hand, with a fixed guardrail, once the installation is complete you need to re-seal the area to ensure there are no potential water leaks that were made by the screws and fasteners.

All in all our self-ballasted roof guardrail solution saved both the contractor and end-user time and money.

Rooftop Safety Compliance Part 1 – Gaining Safe Access to Your Roof

While working on rooftops, safety is a priority! With advancements in infrastructure and the need for businesses to evolve their physical space, commercial roofs across the country are becoming crowded. This is gradually impacting local standards and height safety regulations that are calling for various safety solutions.

During part 1 of this webinar, our rooftop safety expert will be focusing on how to ensure safe and hazard-free access to your rooftop, by reviewing the following topics.

  • Roof access trends and available solutions
  • Review of roof access ladder codes, standards & regulations
  • Review of roof access points and how to eliminate a potential hazard
  • Checklist for how to go about selecting a roof access ladder

Best Practices in Rooftop Safety for Commercial & Industrial Buildings

While working on rooftops, safety is a priority! With advancements in infrastructure and the need for businesses to evolve their physical space, commercial roofs across the country are becoming crowded. This is gradually impacting local standards and height safety regulations that are calling for various solutions, such as roof guardrails, lifeline access ladders and more. During this webinar, our rooftop safety expert will be touching on the following topics.

  • The importance of rooftop safety
  • Height safety trends and available solutions
  • Review of codes, standards & regulations
  • Review of roof access points and how to eliminate a potential hazard
  • Checklist for how to go about selecting your rooftop safety equipment

The Toronto Transit Commission Ensures Safe Access to Rooftop Units

The Toronto Transit Commission Ensures Safe Access to Rooftop Units

Toronto Transit Commission

The Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC) assumed responsibility for municipal transit services in the City of Toronto on September 1, 1921. This began an era of consolidation and expansion that accompanied and accelerated the astonishing growth of Toronto as a city. The TTC has played an important role in Toronto’s past and as we look ahead, it is exciting to think about how they are shaping the city’s future.

ensuring roof safety & compliance

The Toronto Transit Commission was looking to not only ensure rooftop safety compliance but take all safety precautions that would reduce the risk of a rooftop related injury. With the TTC having a safety-first culture, they reached out to the Skyline Group after conducting a self-rooftop safety assessment to review various hazards and related height safety solutions. Today’s industrial and commercial rooftops can quickly become crowded with various units sitting on the roof. When reviewing rooftop safety concerns, safety personnel are looking at how an employee or third-party contractor would go about approaching such rooftop units safely, for routine inspection and maintenance. These units come in various sizes and as such can be covered by regular snowfall during Toronto’s winter months. As a result, it is important to ensure that there is safe passage in and around these units year-round, reducing the risk of someone tripping over a duct system or stepping into a snow-covered skylight. This is no different at the TTC facility. When reviewing their rooftop HVAC systems, Skyline was tasked to ensure safe passage to each system, while enabling the maintenance team to be safe while working at heights. The criteria to be met fell into two categories: compliance and design.


Compliance Requirements
  • Platforms, stairs and guardrails designed to comply with all applicable loads, including OBC Part 3, OBC Part 4 and OSHA Reg. 851 S.14.
  • Platforms and stairs designed for a concentrated live load capacity of 1.3 kN and distributed live load capacity of 1.5 kPa.
  • Guardrails designed for a concentrated live load capacity of 1.0kN, compliant with OBC
  • Total dead load of system not to exceed 0.5 kPa.
  • Dead load (0.5 kPa) plus live load (1.5 kPa) of platforms, guardrails, and stairs onto existing roof not to exceed 2.0 kPa, unfactored.
  • Dead load plus live load (2.0 kPa) of platforms, stairs, and guardrails not to exceed a maximum concentrated load onto the existing roof of 1.3kN. Achieved by having support posts on 600mm centres, max.
Design Requirements
  • Customization capabilities as some of the rooftop units are not standard in size.
  • Modular in design and installation.
  • Lightweight while still being robust to support the load requirements.
  • A permanent walkway, guardrail, platform and crossover solution.
  • Made of long-lasting anti-corrosive material.
  • Must meet a strict and short delivery time.
Roof Guardrail
Safety Roof Ladder
Walkway with Guardrail

Making Roof Safety & Compliance Easy

After a review of the rooftop access points and those rooftop units that require routine maintenance by the TTC. Skyline Group proposed a safety solution that ensured a safe walkway, including a guardrail system, manufactured in aluminum. This reduced the chance of a slip during the winter months, while offering a safe and secure platform to work from. The high-quality aluminum also offered corrosion protection for 10+ years. A crossover solution helped the facilities maintenance team safely walk and work at heights while on the roof. With the height safety solution being modular and made of aluminum, the general contractor was able to transport the units with ease. The savings in labor alone reduced the budget requirements for installation, enabling the opportunity for the general contractor to work on other rooftop-related projects for the TTC. This customized roof safety solution was not only under budget, but met strict deadlines.

Mohawk College Solves Tomorrow’s Height Safety Concerns Today

Mohawk College Solves Tomorrow’s Height Safety Concerns Today

A Leader Among Ontario's Colleges

Mohawk College is a leader among Ontario’s colleges. Deeply rooted in the local community and the present demands, they have a global perspective that addresses the needs of the future. Transforming the educational experience is at the core of Mohawk! They have honed their expertise in the technologies shaping the world and building a better and more inclusive tomorrow — artificial intelligence, robotics, augmented and virtual reality, biotechnology, digital health and cybersecurity, to name a few. Students strive and grow with various applied learning opportunities facilitated both on and off campus. For example, the video you see below was created by Mohawk students looking to gain experience and get creative in showcasing their rooftop safety solutions.

As an inclusive college, Mohawk benefits from the diversity of thoughts, experiences, skills and talents of its students, faculty, staff, and administrators. They focus on creating an environment that reflects all identities, where every student belongs, is welcome and has a voice.

Solar Panel Safety

In the same manner that the Mohawk College is working towards finding creative ways to prepare their students for tomorrow’s needs, their facility maintenance team is constantly striving for improved safety for students, faculty, and service providers. With such a large rooftop, ensuring a safe environment is essential for the college. As the campus and facilities grow, the rooftop will tend to get busier with the latest technology to support the advancements impacting the students and staff.

Mohawk is the first Ontario college to get a STARS® Gold Rating for sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). This is partly due to the 100+ solar panels you will find on the college’s various rooftops. With the solar panels covering much of the roof, personnel must walk within 6 feet of the roof’s edge to access multiple sections of the rooftop. With the solar panels being so close to the roof’s edge, when maintenance is required, the working environment of the service personnel would pose a potential fall hazard. The facility maintenance team knew that anytime you are within 6 feet of a fall from a rooftop, you need a height safety solution.

Safety Roof Ladder

Non-Penetrating Guardrail System

The facility maintenance team reached out to the rooftop safety specialists at Skyline Group to better understand their needs and the available solutions. The Mohawk team was looking for a solution that was:

  • Quick and easy to install
  • Stocked ready to ship
  • Non-penetrating, eliminating the need to penetrate the roof membrane, which would require further repairs and costs to reseal those areas of the roof.
  • Compliant with Ontario height safety regulations and standards
  • Protected against corrosion during the winter months

As a result, the Skyline Group recommended their RoofBarrier 5001 series, as it would meet the college’s growing rooftop safety needs.

“I have worked with Skyline Group for a few years and have always had a great experience from working with the sales team to the team in production. The products have always been in stock and were ready to ship once the shop drawings were signed off. The safety guardrails are quick and easy to assemble.”


Jeremy Dowling – Engineering Services Officer

Decommissioning of a Non-Compliant Access Ladder

Decommissioning of a Non-Compliant Access Ladder

Fort McMurray Jubilee Plaza

There’s something for everyone in the family at the Fort McMurray Jubilee Plaza. Located at the corner of Hardin Street and MacDonald Avenue, Jubilee Plaza is where people of all ages are encouraged to hang out, have fun and relax—designed as a year-round social gathering place, regardless of the season. As the seasons change, so do the activities, including markets, outdoor entertainment, public rallies, fitness-related activities, and various community events.

rooftop elevation

The facility maintenance team at the Jubilee Plaza looked to access an elevated part of the roof. They noticed that the access ladder currently in place was no longer safe. Over the years, the installed ladder had become rusted and, after its most recent safety review by the maintenance team, was deemed non-compliant.

For the maintenance team, this provided an opportunity to upgrade the ladder to better meet their needs. The retired ladder was currently located at the side of the building, requiring personnel to climb up from the pedestrian walkway from the ground level. Jubilee Plaza was looking to install the new ladder in a much more convenient part of the roof, near the main roof access point. To do so, they would need to consider the edge of the roof, slanted window and limited wall space that was available for the installation to take place.

The primary challenge for the Jubilee Plaza maintenance team was to have a custom access ladder solution shipped “yesterday,” as immediate rooftop access was required.

Rooftop Safety

Fixed Aluminum roof ladder

The general contractor working with Jubilee Plaza recommended our line of modular access ladders. The general contractor and facility maintenance team selected the 7002 series fixed aluminum ladders with a platform and handrail combination due to the following reasons.

  • The quick turnaround on design, quoting and delivery.
  • The capability to customize a solution that best meets the roof’s needs while remaining compliant with local safety guidelines.
  • The modular design of the ladder made it quick and easy to install and transport to the roof.
  • Non-corrosive aluminum material.
  • The design ensured that the access ladder and platform did not obstruct the large window and its view.
  • The perforated platform ensured year-round safe access.
Rooftop Safety
Access Ladder


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