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.
Selecting the right equipment is key to reducing the risk of accidents and falls from height. But from the contractor’s point of view, it’s also helpful if the system selected is easy to install, available at short notice and offers good value for money.
Until recently, installing a permanent roof top walkway to form a clear demarcation route on a particular development would present particular challenges for contractors. Because of the variance in roof pitches and configurations, such a system would have to be bespoke-designed for the surface in question.
As a result, specifying and then creating the walkway system for a particular roof becomes an involved and time-consuming process, as you wait upon the manufacturer to, literally, produce the goods. Bespoke systems also give little room for manoeuvre, should adjustments need to be made on site, where things may not necessarily turn out as they were designed.
Faced with these circumstances, the latest innovations on the market, such as, the KEE WALK system from Kee Safety provide a better option from a number of perspectives.
Designed for use on composite, trapezoidal metal profiles and standing seam roofs, this type of off-the-shelf, modular system can be easily adapted on-site to a wide range of different roof types, pitches and configurations. The result is a system that’s much easier to install and more cost-effective than traditional, bespoke walkway systems.
Supplied ex-stock as standard in 1.5m and 3m pre-assembled module sections, this off-the shelf approach is robust and versatile. The lightweight modules are constructed from glass reinforced nylon treads attached to aluminium support beams that are fixed to the roof surface. Steps and a traverse option, complete with an adjustable hinge, enable an installation to be adapted to flat, barrel and sloping roof configurations from 0 through to 35 degrees. The contractor can easily set the angle of the steps, by removing the locating bolt in the hinge, adjusting the angle and replacing the bolt at the desired point on the hinge. No bespoke parts are required. Such systems are also fully compatible with all horizontal safety line systems, like Kee Safety’s own KEELINE system.
Modular systems also comply with the required regulations. Kee® Walk, for example, complies fully with the harmonised European Standard EN 516:2006 (Prefabricated Accessories for Roofing – Installations for roof access – Walkways, treads and steps) which became mandatory in January 2006.
It exceeds the deflection criteria and slip resistance requirements of this standard and achieves almost double the friction requirement of BS 4592 in both wet and dry conditions.
Specifying this type of modular, off-the-shelf system presents contractors with a quicker, more cost-effective and more practical approach to walkways than bespoke systems, and will ensure that they and their housing association clients comply fully with the requirements of the Work at Height Regulations. It’s a win-win for both parties.