Risk and Financial Impacts of Prevention through Design Solutions

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Engineering Technologies, Safety, and Construction

Publication Date



Falls from roofs are a significant risk for both construction and maintenance workers. A roof anchor system is the common design solution to eliminate the falling hazard. This paper presents the findings of a case study to serve as a preliminary investigation of the financial impact and risk of roof fall protection solutions. The research began with the selection of a project that featured a roof anchor system and a parapet that does not meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guardrail height requirements. The intent of the research was to compare the cost of design and installation of the roof anchors and parapet with that of two other design options on the same project: only a parapet that meets the OSHA guardrail requirements; and no anchors or parapet. Data used for the study were collected through interviews of project personnel and reviews of project documentation. The parapet system was found be an expensive, but safer, alternative compared with the roof anchor system. The roof anchor system creates more risk to worker safety because of the extensive amount of temporary fall protection measures required during construction. This requirement puts more workers at risk of injury during installation of temporary guardrails and while working near the leading edge. The roof anchor system indirectly affects worker productivity by at least 15% compared with the parapet system. Using this study as a starting point, more research is recommended that examines the costs and risks associated with various prevention through design (PtD) solutions. Such research will assist owners and designers in making informed decisions while choosing PtD solutions.


This article was originally published in Practice Periodical on Structural Design and Construction. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Practice Periodical on Structural Design and Construction


© 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers.