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Fall protection and CDM – the vital questions you need to ask

‘Don’t make CDM a tick box exercise’ urges fall protection expert

MSA Safety is urging all principal designers, as defined by the Construction Design and Management (CDM) regulations, to ask every time they specify fall protection: ‘Has the fall protection I have specified been tested on the same type of roof to the one it will be fixed to?’ and  ‘Is the standard of protection you have specified actually the product installed on the structure?’

The CDM regulations, last updated in 2015, require a health and safety plan to be incorporated at the very outset of any construction works but, says Tim Bissett Technical Manager for the Latchways® brand at MSA, many Principal Designers specify in good faith without knowing the risks that exist. “These days there are many different types of roof used in construction – not all designers use a concrete roof but that is the only material that fall protection anchors need to work on to meet current standards. What about secret fix roofs? Standing seam roofs? Warm flatroofs? All these perform very differently to concrete when a force is exerted upon them.

Tim continues: “Working in fall protection we all have a huge and collective responsibility to protect people working at height and I would ask everyone involved to ask two simple and related questions before specifying a fall protection solution. Firstly: Has the fall protection system been directly tested on the structure type it will be attached onto? Secondly: Have you ensured that the quality of the fall protection system you have specified is, in fact, the exact same as the system that will actually be installed?

“It may sound a given, but many contractors – in good faith – think they are substituting like for like, but actually that pivotal question of suitability for use on a specific roofing system is key and one of the main reasons that the MSA Latchways team tests on every type of popular roof type in use. If the equipment you have specified is changed without your knowledge, you could be held legally liable in the unfortunate event of an accident. It’s also the reason why our Constant Force Post system is virtually the only system that supports the warranty from roofing manufacturers such as TATA Steel, Kalzip, Protan and Icopal.”

Introduced in 2001, the MSA Latchways Constant Force®Post is a roof-anchor system designed for both fall arrest and fall restraint. Uniquely, it has an integral energy absorbing coil that, in the event of a fall, deploys in a controlled manner to absorb the force generated. In doing so it ensures that the load exerted on the point of attachment will not exceed 10 kN and so allows the post to be fixed to a relatively delicate structure without the additional requirement to attach to structural steel or purlins. This ensures the roof or structure remains intact and workers are kept safe even in the event of a fall

“As an industry there is a responsibility to ensure we are advising and educating architects, contractors and specifiers to see their specification through, which means bringing thinking to CDM and lifting fall protection up from being simply a tick box item- it’s far too important for that.”


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