HEIGHT safety specialist Combisafe says it has 'crossed the last frontier' for edge protection with the unveiling of a new barrier system specifically for steel frame construction.
The Steel Mesh Barrier Mark II is designed to be fitted to steelwork at ground level then craned into place, saving the steel contractor both time and money and creating a safer system of installation.
Among the key features of the new version are an inward curving toeboard, which cuts down on the risk of debris falling through, and an attachment system that allows for adjustment both vertically and outwards from the building edge. This enables elements such as glass facade brackets to be installed safely with the barrier in place.
According to business development director Barney Green, use of the SMB should save significant time on construction.
He said: 'Often the main contractor tells the steel contractor they want edge protection fitted and the response is to get in a scaffold subbie.
But this way, if the contractor is on board from the beginning, the steel can be pre-drilled and the barrier fitted at ground level. Then the whole thing can simply be craned into place.
If the steelworkers are trained to do it, it saves the time and labour costs of the scaffold contractor. You don't even have to lift the beam off the floor, it can be fitted lying on its side.' Mr Green said the involvement of the main contractor early in the process should serve to speed up the general flow of production. On trial in Bradford, the system shaved a week per f loor of construction for contractor Bluestone, though this was partly due to the nature of the site.
He said: 'Usually the edge protection goes up for the needs of the metal decker, but then gets in the way of the following trades. This way the contractor has a say in the whole process.' The SMB system uses two barrier sizes, 2.6 m and 1.3 m, and has reinforced flat-bar edges said to be 20 times stronger than the previous wire edges. It uses a custom holder, bolted onto the barrier post, with the mesh barrier attached by a hook. This allows the barrier to be attached at any height to the post, allowing work underneath it. The other patent pending element is an 'adjuster' which enables the worker to lift the barrier up or down using one hand, and without dismantling the whole system.
Mr Green said: 'It effectively allows adjustment in three dimensions, so you can easily accommodate situations where the edge is out by a few millimetres.'