07/06/2021 by Pro Netting Essex Limited 0 Comments
Health and Safety Regulations Around the Use of Safety Nets
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), one of the biggest causes of major injuries and fatalities in the UK is working at height. Relevant data shows that the most common cases of workplace accidents include falling a distance liable to cause personal injury. If there were no precautions in place (like having a collective fall arrest system) when working at height, a person could fall off the ladder or through a fragile roof.
This is why the government set out health and safety regulations for employers to reduce the risk of their workers getting injured while working at height. Stay on this page as we go over the regulations around the use of fall arrest systems like safety nets.
At a Glance: Principles of Safety Nets
In a separate blog, we talked in-depth about the four different types of fall protection systems and why employers need them to protect their workers. Before we go to the regulations around safety nets, let’s talk about their design first. So basically, these nets are made to progressively deflect and absorb the energy of a fall.
A falling person is likely to be injured when these nets are in place. It’s physics simplified: the greater the fall height, the greater the impact. There must be enough clear distance below the net to prevent a person falling from hitting an obstacle or the ground.
The Responsibilities of Employers
Employers in the construction industry have the responsibility to ensure their workers are safe on-site at all times. They have to implement safety measures before they let any worker work at height. Apart from that, they also have to initiate a working at height training to promote a safer way of working.
The Workplace (Health, Safety, and Welfare) Regulations 1992 requires employers to provide safe passageways for their employees. For instance, they are to prevent slipping and tripping hazards. They must ensure a safe working environment and facilities for safety and health.
Regardless of whether their employees are working at height for a short or long time, they must take all practicable steps to meet legal requirements.
Safety nets used in any work involving heights should be compliant with BS EN 12631 (Safety nets – Part 1: Safety requirements and test methods), which includes inspection, UV testing, repair and maintenance procedures. These nets should have an ID label with the date of manufacture, net system and class, net size, and reference to the product standard. They should also have a unique serial number to make it easy for them to be traced.
Employers have to ensure that a UV test mesh is in place. New nets must have removable test meshes, which will be removed and tested each year. Fall arrest systems are usually inspected by a competent individual during the rigging process.
More About Work at Height Regulations
Employers need to be clear that there is a potential need to carry out a rescue when safety nets are provided. There are specific references to rescue that every employee should know:
Organisation and planning
Employers have the obligation under the law to ensure that the work is properly planned. Planning also includes emergencies and rescue. This is where it becomes crucial to consider the type of rescue on each job.
Some rescue cases usually involve cutting out of the net from below using MEWP. If the rescue is different from planned, there should be plan B, C, and D. Employers need to challenge the workability of the rescue plan all the time.
This is why planning should be the highlight before undertaking work involving heights. Panic should be avoided in the event of a fall and rescue situation.
Selection of work equipment
The Work at Height regulations go on to say that every employer shall take account of the need for easy and timely evacuation and rescue in an emergency. They are also legally responsible for any additional risk posed by the installation, removal, or use of work equipment.
These are the safest methods of rescue:
⦁ from above (up to 2 persons may enter the net from above to respond to the faller)
⦁ rescue from below (a stretcher is positioned beneath the faller; the net is cut to release them)
⦁ rescue from below using a MEWP
Employers in the construction industry should be aware of new legislation and make improvements and changes when necessary. As an employer, make sure you keep the workplace safe for all your employees.
Here at Pro Netting Essex Limited, we are your trusted partner when it comes to keeping your job site safe and secure. Work with us for safety nets for your site.