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Living on the Edge: Your Guide to Edge Protection

13/07/2020

Heights are not for everyone. Some people love being high above the ground, others it’s their worst fear. 

For some, heights are part of the job. Working on a roof or on a multi-story building is just another day at the office. But with greater heights, comes greater risk of injury or things falling. 

Due to these increased risks, it is critical all your corners are covered – literally – because without edge protection, you’re putting everyone in danger. 

Here’s what you need to know:

 

What is edge protection 

Edge protection is a protective measure that helps prevent people, tools, and materials from falling. This includes: 

  • Around the perimeters of an elevated work area
  • Around openings
  • To stop access onto brittle material which cannot safely support a person

 

When you need it 

Whenever your site involves working above the ground or on elevated surfaces. 

Edge protection is required on all exposed edges of a roof, including the perimeter of buildings, skylights or other fragile roof materials, and any openings in the roof – this also includes openings and edges of floor areas, such as balconies.

 

What it involves 

Edge protection comes in a series of forms including:

  • A proprietary (engineered) system: 
    • This needs to be installed by a competent person with suitable training in safe work methods
    • It must be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and specifications
    • If the roof pitch is less than 25 degrees: must be rated
    • If the roof pitch is greater than 25 degree: must be rated and a barrier between the bottom and mid-rail to prevent anything from falling
  • Materials to form a guardrail and/or physical barriers
    • Must be installed by a competent person
  • Erected scaffolding that supports a temporary edge-protection system
    • Installed by a certified scaffolder or competent person depending on the height of the scaffold.

 

Planning for it

Like anything, failing to plan is planning to fail. And, edge protection is no different. 

If you know your site will require edge protection at some stage in the project, make sure to build it into your initial planning and considerations. Don’t wait until a few weeks before you need it, to start designing a plan. 

Consider what the potential risks are, how they will impact your team, people on-site and the general public, and how it will be installed and taken down. 

With proper and thorough planning you decrease the risk of anyone getting hurt or damaging property as a result of working at heights. 

 

Installing it

Get your edge protection sorted as early as possible on a job. Make sure you have a clear timeline in place for when you’ll require edge protection on-site. 

And, keep everyone on-site in the loop. Let your team and other contractors know when edge protection is being installed, how long it’ll be on-site for and then when it is scheduled to come down. 

 

Checking its integrity

There’s no use having edge protection if it isn’t doing the job. So, ensure edge protection is:

  • Erected, used and maintained in accordance with its design information
  • Regularly inspected by a competent person
  • Inspected after a storm or other weather events, or natural disasters, such as an earthquake 
  • Free of any defects before use

 

Keeping your team safe should be a top priority on any construction site – and edge protection is a huge part of that. If you’re still unsure how best to move forward and protect your team, you can get in touch with the HazardCo team today.

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