Living on the edge!

Published:  27 March, 2007

Effective edge protection is a priority for those working at height in an industrial environment. John Thelwell of Kee Klamp Ltd outlines the importance for specifiers in making the right choice in system.

People employed to carry out work or inspection and maintenance of rooftop or high-level plant, lighting systems, gutters or to repair damage to the fabric of an industrial building know just how dangerous their job can be. For a start, they may be at the mercy of the elements, working in wet, cold and windy weather conditions. Also, because of the nature of their work, they are at risk from any number of slip and trip hazards posed by wet areas, cables, building materials, etc. These can be the cause of potentially fatal accidents.

 

HSE guidance

Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive(HSE) and European Standards (EN 14122 Part 3) is key to achieving an awareness of the safety issues involved in working at height. These guidelines make reference to the installation of edge protection systems on flat roofs or platforms. In short, where building and maintenance work frequently takes place at high level or on rooftops, then the correct installation of effective edge protection systems can successfully prevent dangerous falls from heights.

The most common safety protection systems available on the market can be broken down into two groups: collective and personal. Collective edge protection systems generally offer protection to everybody accessing or working on a given roof or platform at the same time. These typically include permanent fixed solutions or free-standing systems. Personal protection systems will offer protection only to the individual attached to the safety point on the roof area.

 

Standard EN 14122 Part 3

To ensure compliance with the European Standard EN 14122 Part 3, all collective free-standing systems have to be tested to the following requirements:  "Testing of Stanchions and Handrails shall be carried out to ensure that under the Given Horizontal load (f) the system shall not deflect more than 30mm and show no perceivable signs of permanent deformation after the test load (f) is removed. The test load 'f' is derived from the formula ‘Distance in metres between two successive stanchions x 300 N / m". The test shall be carried out on all different configurations of Stanchion and Handrail arrangement that a system adopts in its design. Therefore a test shall be carried out on an End Stanchion as well as an Intermediate Stanchion.”

Simply put, if the system has been tested with a counterbalance every two metres and uprights every two metres then it must be installed with counterbalances every two metres and uprights every two metres. This sounds obvious, but drawings must be checked and verified for compliance with their test certificate.

Tests have confirmed that where the distance between counterbalances on long runs extends beyond the systems’ tested tolerances, then the effectiveness of the roof edge protection system can be brought into serious question. The implications for installer safety are equally grave, and so too is the potentially ruinous cost and damage resulting from what would be, after all, entirely avoidable litigation for the employer. 

Dropquote: “ In short, where building and maintenance work frequently takes place at high level or on rooftops, then the correct installation of effective edge protection systems can successfully prevent dangerous falls from heights.”

For further information please visit: www.keeklamp.co.uk

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