A staggering number of accidents continue to result from slips, trips and falls from height. Against the backdrop of the HSE’s Shattered Lives campaign, Jeff Rowley, Product Manager at fall protection specialist, Kee Safety Ltd looks at how the latest innovations in roof protection can help reduce the risk of accidents, whilst not affecting the aesthetics of a building.
According to the HSE, falls from height remain one of the most common causes of fatality and major injury in the UK, resulting in around 35 workplace fatalities each year, at an estimated annual cost to the country of £800 million. Figures available for 2010/11 have highlighted that 3956 workers were injured as a result of a fall from height – 16% of overall work related major injuries. This is a small improvement on the 2008/09 figures where 4654 major injuries were reported.
It’s no surprise that the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) continues to highlight the key issues and the steps that can be taken in reducing both the incidents and the cost of injuries through ‘Shattered Lives’ campaign. As part of this campaign, the HSE now offer a solutions database, a short cut guidance tool which offers advice on working at height, a special online safety tool (STEP) and a work at height access equipment toolkit (WAIT).
Of course, under the Work at Height Regulations 2005, as amended by the Work at Height (Amendment) Regulations 2007, there is a legal requirement for anyone who contracts others to access and maintain rooftop equipment on public buildings and social housing developments to ensure proper safety precautions are in place. These Regulations replaced all the earlier regulations about working at height. They consolidated previous legislation and implement European Council Directive 2001/45/EC concerning minimum safety and health requirements for the use of equipment for work at height (the Temporary Work at Height Directive). Breaching these regulations can result in a legal prosecution and either a substantial fine or possible imprisonment.
Architects are no doubt aware of the need for roof top safety, but maybe not so conscious of the variety of systems available on the market. The appearance of a building is always of significant concern and this might lead to a system not being put in place if it means the aesthetics of the property could be compromised. Faced with this issue, manufacturers have developed systems which take this into account. Solutions such as KeeGuard® Foldshield and KeeGuard® Topfix from Kee Safety provide a great option for architects.
Designed as clever and unobtrusive roof safety solutions, folding guardrail systems have been purposely created for corporate and heritage public buildings where aesthetics are a significant concern. With specially hinged bases, collapsible guardrails can be lifted into place when work is in progress, then easily folded back down when not in use. Using a simple locking pin, it makes system use easy and straight forward. This foldable capability ensures it can be used over a greater choice of locations, where a fixed visible solution may be considered unsuitable for specification. As a counterbalance system, it sits on top of the roof surface without the need for any membrane penetration.
Further roof edge protection products have been developed to provide an adaptable guardrail solution for standing seam and metal profile roofs. An ‘off the shelf’ product, it comprises a base plate, pre-assembled uprights and open cup fittings for quick and easy assembly. The specially designed base plate incorporates multiple fixing centres to allow for installation on a wide range of popular roofs.
The base plates for standing seam roofs are fixed using non-penetrative, 2-part clamps while the plates on metal profile roofs are secured with minimal penetrations using rivets and butyl sealing strips to maintain the roof structure. These systems easily accommodate ridges, valleys, corners and other structural difference. With an upright base fitting that allows for 0-11 degree vertical adjustment and four fixing holes in the place, the system can fit into the roof profile as straightforwardly as possible.
By installing these systems, the building will comply fully with the requirements of the Working at Height Regulations. These systems also meet the relevant test requirements, including BS EN 13374 Class A. Specifying these types of systems presents contractors with a quicker, more cost-effective and more practical approach to roof edge protection.
For more information on the HSE’s Shattered Lives campaign visit www.hse.gov.uk/shatteredlives. For full details on Kee Safety’s range of roof edge protection solutions, please visit www.keesafety.co.uk