CONCRETE kerb manufacturers and safety representatives are to meet next week in a bid to thrash out enforcement measures for kerb laying rules.
They will be joined by representatives from local authorities, contractors and the Health and Safety Executive to discuss how safety inspectors can enforce rules designed to stop the manual lifting of heavy kerbs.
The HSE set a deadline of June 30 for all contractors installing short stretches of kerbs to stop manual lifting and introduce the use of mechanical handling techniques.
Another deadline of January 1 is in place, when contractors will see all manual handling work including spot maintenance and repairs banned regardless of the length of kerbing due to be installed.
But contractors complained that there were still no firm guidelines on how HSE inspectors will govern the rules and there is doubt as to what constitutes a 'short'stretch of kerbs.
One claimed that regional variances over the enforcement were causing confusion, with opinion varying between inspectors in different areas on how and when to apply the rules. He said: 'The first deadline has been and gone but still we do not know with any certainty what is and is not allowed. Inspectors in different areas are using different levels of enforcement.'
Concrete kerb manufacturers have been busily trying to develop products that help installers comply with HSE legislation.
Although the rules state that machine handling is preferable, contractors can still lay kerbs by hand as long as they go through the correct risk assessment procedures, which include proving that it is not practical to machine lay.
Charcon market development manager Kevin Greaves said: 'The HSE's own hierarchy of control acknowledges that in certain circumstances it is not possible to eliminate partial mechanical handling solutions.
'Where this is necessary, lighter weight products should be used.
'Charcon has developed a range of op-tions to assist the HSE in its objective including a 20 Kg kerb.'
An HSE spokeswoman explained that the levels of enforcement were due to different local authorities completing schemes on differing dates.
She said: 'The ultimate cut off date is the January 1 deadline.Some authorities are already enforcing the rule because they have schemes that will run over that date.
'We did not want to be in the position where a job straddles the deadline and contractors would find themselves being able to lay manually one day but in breach of the regulations the next.'