Student project keeps roof inspectors safe

Posted: April 7, 2015 10:00 a.m.

Sydney Dreger and Adam McEwen in front of their prototype Portable Ground-Based Fall Restraint System.
Sydney Dreger and Adam McEwen in front of their prototype Portable Ground-Based Fall Restraint System. (Photo Courtesy of External Relations)

A co-op work term opened the door for two University of Regina engineering students to come up with a a device to prevent injuries and save lives when people are climbing on roofs.

Falls are the number one killer in construction, according to the Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association.

The Portable Ground-Based Fall Restraint System is a safety device that keeps roof inspectors safe in the event of an accident.

Sydney Dreger and Adam McEwen showed off their design at the University of Regina’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science Project Day recently.

The restraint system is made for inspections of flat and peaked roofs including bungalow designed houses. The device is to be used with a full body harnesses, lanyards and lifelines attached to the ground-based anchor.

“If a roof inspector were to have an accident and slide, the anchor weight and the friction of the rope on the roof would catch that person before falling, saving them from any injury or death,” explains Dreger, who completed two co-op work terms at Roof Management and Inspection Services (RMIS) in Regina. The company also provided funding for the students’ project.

The total anchor weighs 226 kilograms (512 pounds) and uses nine  23 kg (50 lb) weights.

“The ground-based anchor is temporary, so it won’t cause any lasting damage to the clients’ yards,” says McEwen citing an additional advantage to the device.

To illustrate their point, the students constructed a small-scale roof to simulate real-world situations. According to the test results, the prototype supports a person with a top weight of around 140kg (310lbs ).

“This is all about safety for our inspectors.”Roof Management Inspection Services

“This restraint system solves a significant safety problem for us,” says Percy Crossman of Roof Management and Inspection Services. The company is impressed enough with the prototype that it has ordered two more for its offices in Regina and Saskatoon.

“We do quite a few inspections every day, but sometimes we have trouble accessing some roofs. This allows for greater flexibility,” says Crossman.  

Both McEwen and Dreger are in their final year of Industrial Systems Engineering. Dreger has turned her work terms at RMIS into a fulltime job upon graduation. She completed work terms at Yara International and TRIUMF in Vancouver.

McEwen has interned in a variety of engineering-related jobs at The Mosaic Company, Yara International, Case New Holland and K+S Potash, where he has secured a full time position upon graduation.

The U of R’s co-op program offers students a chance to gain valuable paid work experience while completing their studies.