8 months ago

Insulate Magazine Issue 12 - November 2017

The 1st Birthday issue of Insulate magazine titled "Round 12 with Recticel" features an exclusive interview with Recticel's commercial Director Kevin Bohea. If that wasn't enough we have a great exclusive inside the BBA, featuring an interview with BBA Chef Executive Richard Beale.

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The only independent insulation industry trade magazine insulate columnist Working at Height Reality of the risk Insulate Magazine columnist George Elliott, a technical specialist at science-based technology company 3M, explains the need for having suitable fall protection in place when working at height, whether that is at one or 500 metres Last year, the number of worker fatalities due to falls from height was the lowest on record. In 2016/17, there were a recorded 25 fatal injuries, compared to 37 in 2015/16 and an annual average of 40 over the past five years. While increasing risk awareness and enhanced safety measures have helped towards this improvement, even the most careful and focused worker can still be subject to the kind of danger that could change a life forever. In particular, when working on contracts such as loft insulation there are a number of hazards which could lead to potentially life threatening falls. Before turning to personal fall protection equipment, managers must consider the hierarchy of controls to ensure that the hazard is not avoidable. Eliminating Risk The preliminary stage is to try to eliminate any risk altogether. This can involve looking at the design or engineering solutions in order to avoid a need to work at height in the first place. Of course, in many cases this is not possible, so the next stage is to find ways of preventing the fall from occurring. Here, there are two main channels to explore; collective and personal fall protection. Collective protection includes equipment such as temporary working structures and guardrails. For prolonged contracts, a semi-permanent platform could be used in the place of ladders as these fixtures have required HSE standards. All potential dangers should be strictly assessed by means of a risk assessment before any construction work begins. Further information to assist in this process can be found on the HSE’s website, Individual Safety Once the collective protection structure is deemed safe, there is the matter of individual safety. When deciding on the type of equipment to issue to their workforce, managers should consider that just because equipment is CE-marked, it does not mean it necessarily provides the most suitable protection for any particular job. CE-marking simply means that the minimum safety requirement has been met. For example, most harness equipment is tested against the EN drop-test, using a weight of 100kg. An individual may weigh more than this when fully kitted out with boots and tools and so their harness may not be adequate. In any case, a full risk assessment should determine the most appropriate personal fall protection equipment (PFPE). Companies should choose the best equipment for each job, not simply supply equipment to demonstrate compliance. Aside from the risk of a fall, there is also the possibility of objects dropping from above and causing injury. As stated in The Work at Height Regulations 2005, measures should be put in place to stop this from happening, but also to protect workers should they be hit, particularly on the head. If - for reasons beyond control - measures to totally prevent falls are not possible, then managers can look at 16 mitigation methods as a last resort to reduce any potential impact. Mitigation Methods Such methods may include a personal fall arrest lanyard attached to a body harness, specifically designed to withstand the brunt of a fall through an energy-absorbing element. Anchorage connectors can be used as a secure point of attachment for lifelines of this type. There are a number of PFPE options on the market encompassing solutions for many of the above hazards, all with differing levels of protection. Finally, where work at height is necessary, companies should have a rescue plan that either provides the prompt rescue of workers in the event of a fall, or ensures that they are able to rescue themselves. Descent and rescue devices are one way of addressing this. The Work at Height Regulations 2005 also state that where other precautions do not entirely eliminate the risk of a fall occurring, those who will be working at height must be properly trained in how to avoid falling, and how to avoid or minimise injury to themselves should they fall. There are many training courses available for both safety managers and their workforce. 3M offers training classes and tools to help promote safety on every worksite, with courses delivered either on site or at 3M’s specialist training centre near Manchester. For registration and course information requests, visit, email or call 01457 878640. Risks at height should be preventable, so long as the equipment is used correctly. In accordance with HSE requirements and government legislation, employers are responsible for ensuring all employees are properly trained to safely use the appropriate fall protection system and its components. 17