It is mandated by law for commercial buildings and structures to have a proper rooftop maintenance access for their HVAC or other ancillary systems that are commonly installed on top of their buildings. A rooftop hatch is one of the simplest ways to provide a quick way up to the top deck. It offers many features for security and weatherproofing. Not only should a roof hatch be installed with safety and security in mind—it should also conform to government regulations and rules and pass certification.
During installation, it is well to note the material that will be used. Most roof hatches are made from weather resilient metals with coatings to help them stand up to the elements. Another important factor to consider would be the panel size. Most roof access hatches are sized so that they would fit both people as well as equipment for easy servicing in case they need maintenance or repair. For personnel access, a small single cover hatch can be specified. These usually come with a fixed ladder, ship stair, or service stair and have varying hatch openings, from 36 by 30 for simple ladder access ports to 30 by 96 inch service hatches. These large hatch openings are great for easily bringing equipment and tools up through the rooftop.
The major concern for commercial roof hatch installation would be for safety. No matter which system is used to protect the hatch opening, the following is essential for a basic hatch setup:
- A smooth railing 42 inches above the floor, runway or ramp leading to the hatch.
- The rail should be able to withstand 200lbs of pressure to meet safety specifications.
- The railing should fit on the vertical leg of the frame without penetrating the roofing material to prevent leaks.
- The installation must be simple and requires basic tools for easy servicing and troubleshooting in the event of an emergency.
Open hatches can be fall hazards when left unattended. That is the reason for numerous standards and guidelines for setting up a roof hatch.