Step 1 - Incidents & Causes

Building towards safety success in construction

Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of fatality and major injury for those working in the construction sector.

NG Bailey, one of the UK’s leading buildings services and systems providers, has been developing installation techniques and strategies to reduce the risks associated with working at height.

In the four years the company has been working on the St Helens and Knowsley PFI Hospitals scheme there have been no such incidents despite the size and complexity of the project. This can be attributed to a new way of working involving Off-Site Manufacturing (OSM) techniques.

To manage the risks posed by the significant amount of mechanical and electrical installation work that was needed at height, the associated manual handling issues and the potential for slips, trips and falls, the project team looked at many different options and decided upon a modular system.

NG Bailey designed a system  whereby  sections of cable containment and pipe work are assembled together with their associated support systems in a box frame. These modules are then fitted with the aid of mechanical straddle stackers to lift and support them whilst they are being fixed to the structure of the building. Work is then undertaken to connect the services on these modular segments together and install the associated wiring onto the pre-fitted cable containment systems.

The benefit of this type of module system is that it eliminates the need for workers to install individual components to the building structure thereby reducing the need for many repeated manual handling operations. The overall result was that the workers were able to dramatically reduce the time spent working at height and, therefore, greatly reduce all associated risks.

David Lynch, Safety Health Environment and Quality manager for NG Bailey, said: "The box frame module concept totally changed the way we worked at height on the project making it far safer for all concerned as well as increasing the workers’ productivity. The fact that there have been no incidents relating to working at height demonstrates the success of using an OSM technique."

Construction Case Study - National Construction College

Step 2 - Avoiding Accidents

Prevent falls from scaffolding

Ensure that scaffold platforms have suitable edge protection in the form of double guardrails and toe boards at every edge to prevent people and materials falling.

Where loading bays are erected ensure they’re fitted with gates, which should be kept closed when loading is not taking place to prevent falls.

Gaps or damage to scaffolding

Working platforms should be fully boarded, with no gaps through which a person could fall and a competent person should regularly inspect the scaffold.

Lapping of scaffold boards should be avoided to prevent people tripping and falling over the uneven surface.

Effective barriers or warning notices should be in place to stop people using incomplete scaffolding, and remember if you notice something out of place or damaged report it immediately.

Keeping your site in good order

Keep work areas as tidy as possible whilst work is going on.

Ensure there are separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic routes on site and that these are level, stoned up if muddy, and gritted when icy.

Plan deliveries to minimise the amount of materials on site and ensure there are designated storage areas, which are kept tidy.

Have site arrangements in place for the removal of waste.

Report good order problems to site management.

Poor weather conditions

In icy, windy or wet conditions ensure work at height is not carried out if it will jeopardize the health and safety of workers. Access equipment should only be used when the weather permits. Check the manufacturers instructions for specific advice. Saturated or uneven surfaces can compromise stability of access equipment. Check that the surface can bear the load placed on it.

Falling from roofs

Make sure there is always a safe route onto the roof using: e.g. a general access scaffold with secured ladder or stair tower.

Ensure there is edge protection to all elevations to prevent people or materials falling.

Avoid tiling work in wet or icy weather.

Falling from a MEWP

Properly plan the work before you start, ensure you have the correct MEWP (mobile elevating work platform) for the job and the operator is fully trained.

The MEWP should have an emergency stop at ground level and the work platform should have suitable barriers e.g. guard rails and toe boards.

Wearing personal fall protection e.g. harnesses and short work-restraint lanyards should be considered when using a boom-type MEWP.

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