Blog

1st December 2017

SAFETY NETTING: WILL IT WORK WHEN IT'S NEEDED? 
BY Tony Seddon, FASET Company Secretary

Almost all sites have safety netting on them on at some point. It is a wide spread addition to safety, and it does save lives. FASET collates statistics, and we know that there are hundreds of falls into safety nets each year, and putting it bluntly, this means people go home to their families and loved ones every week instead of the other unthinkable alternative.

So safety nets are undoubtedly a good thing - I am sure we all agree. But are all safety net installations equal? Will they work when they are needed? What is required to ensure they do?

To look at this systematically, we need to look at the three pillars of the safety netting system:

1. Products

2. Maintenance

3. Competence

If any one of these pillars is broken or weak, the safety netting ‘building’ will collapse, potentially costing lives.

To ascertain what is required, lets look at each in turn.

1. Products are extremely easy to tackle by reference to the standard BS EN 1263-1:2014. All safety nets have to be manufactured to this standard. This is easily checked by looking at the label on the safety net which is a mandatory part of the standard. It must note that it has been made to this standard. If it doesn’t, it must not be used.

2. Maintenance wise, this is where it gets more complex. BS 8411:2007 and BS EN 1263-2:2014 both dictate how a safety net must be maintained, and the records that must be kept. In addition, the FASET Health, Safety and Technical Committee publishes guidance to assist compliance with these standards, and to fill the gaps that exist.

Companies must comply with the above standards and guidance for the safety netting building to be robust. If they don’t fully comply, the safety netting ‘building’ will collapse, and lives may be lost.

3. Competence of the individuals installing safety nets is also an easy one. The only recognised training scheme available for this is via FASET, and the measure of the competence of the individual installing the safety nets is via the NVQ in Safety Net Rigging. Both these stages can be evidenced by the individual holding a current CSCS Safety Net Rigger card - Red for trainees, and Blue for qualified individuals. If the card does not say “Safety Net Rigger” on the back, they shouldn’t be installing a safety net. If you check this, you will ensure that the individuals installing safety nets on your site are competent to do so.

BUT, and this is a big BUT, competent individuals installing compliant safety net products on your site does NOT mean that you have fulfilled your obligations and all is well in the world. It does NOT mean that the company who employs them is competent, nor does it mean that their maintenance and record keeping can be assumed to be compliant with the standards.

What are we saying? We have established that the hardest part to ensure is correct in order for the safety nets on your site to save lives is the maintenance and record keeping element. So how do you, as the person responsible for your site being safe and compliant, ensure that maintenance is up to date and correct, and that the safety nets will save lives when needed? Do you become a safety net boffin and spend your days visiting your safety net installing companies to ensure that they are corporately competent? Do you check their test and inspection regime to ensure it is compliant? Do you pull out safety nets from their net fleet to check them? I doubt you have the time.

This is where FASET can help. We audit all our members annually as part of our 115 question audit process. This audit forms part of SSiP in its own right, but goes beyond the core SSiP requirements.It covers ALL the salient points within the standards and guidance relating to all aspects that FASET cover. It looks at how the net fleet is maintained and recorded. It checks their net fleet, competence of installers, and more importantly their management competence.

'But my safety net installers tell me that they are FASET members’. We regularly hear this and see installers claiming to be FASET members simply because they have individuals who hold a CSCS Safety Net Rigger card, in an attempt to convince you they are corporately competent.

We need to be clear - ONLY those companies listed on the members section of our website HERE are FASET Members who have been audited and checked to ensure that they have met or exceeded these maintenance requirements and who can be relied upon to be corporately competent.

Short of becoming a safety net boffin, and going round all your installing companies, the ONLY way you have of being sure that the installing company has all three pillars of the safety net ‘building’ in place, and that they are robust and will not collapse when needed, is to visit the members page and ensure your safety nets are being installed by one of our corporate members.

So, can you be sure that your safety netting work when it is needed?

 

14th December 2016

GETTING FALLS FROM HEIGHT REPORTING RIGHT

homepage-imageWith falls from height still the single biggest cause of fatalities and injuries in the workplace, there is an imperative to get ‘falls from height reporting right’.

Because of the systematic absence of structured and sufficiently detailed information to identify the root cause of an incident, it is often impossible to arrive at a complete understanding of the nature and circumstances of a fall from the information provided.

For example, was access equipment involved? If so, what type? Did that equipment, or its misuse, play a part in the incident?

Against this background there is a compelling need for a more comprehensive and meaningful reporting system to better inform equipment design, guidance and training going forward.

There is also a requirement for statutory authorities to recognise, and, more importantly, take full advantage of the experience and experience of expert organisations such as FASET - and the other member organisations of the Access Industry Forum - when evaluating and assessing falls from height.

Finally, it is important for industry and trade and professional bodies to unite in lobbying for change and innovation to the existing system.

FASET is doing its part by providing a facility for falls to be reported anonymously through the FASET website. It will help provide a more accurate picture of how, how often and in what way a safety net is actually being deployed.