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HSE SAFETY ALERT: SCAFFOLDING LOADING BAYS

Use of cable ties to secure loose mesh and unsafe means of operation

The Health and Safety Executive has published Safety Alert Bulletin No: FOD 2-2015 (Issue Date: 21 July 2015) after becoming aware that a number of manufacturers/suppliers are marketing an extendable scaffold loading bay gate which does not satisfy legal requirements or applicable standards when in some configurations.

When extended the loading bay gate, which forms part of the edge protection on a scaffold, is not robust enough to fulfil this function and is therefore not suitable and sufficient to comply with the Work at Height Regulations 2005. This safety notice applies to all similar types of loading bay gate as described in the Safety Alert.

Action required:
  • For gates of the type described in this safety alert stainless steel cable ties will be accepted as an interim measure for securing the mesh panel, and should be installed to the gate supplier’s instructions. Typically this will be one cable tie per 300mm. Unless the gate manufacturer/supplier allows a lighter duty cable tie, ties rated at minimum 75kg loop tensile strength should be used. Note that most cable ties are not designed to be suitable for reuse following loosening or removal. Alternatively, this aspect of the safety alert can be complied with by installing the extendible gate in the fully closed (narrowest) configuration thereby not requiring the use of cable ties.
  • Stainless steel cable ties should be included as part of the 7 day scaffold inspection.
  • Options to allow the gates in question to be opened without workers being able to slip or trip and fall through the gap underneath the open gate or the large gap while opening the gate include remote opening using rope over a scaffold rail or pulley fixed above and inboard of the closed gate. Or moving the gate pivot further inboard and extending the operating levers – this may remove the need to fully rotate the gate during opening. Both these methods allow operation from the rear of the loading bay platform – ie at least 2m back from the open edge
  • HSE has been informed that the supplier of one model of the gates in question is working on a design change to bring the gate to a standard that meets EN 12811-1 during operation and use. HSE expects manufacturers/suppliers of similar gates to do the same. These improvements will need to address the securing of the mesh infill panels; the risk of the gate opening due to a person or materials falling against it; and the level of fall protection provided when the gate is operated or open
  • Cable ties are not a permanent solution, However it is appreciated that many of these gates are manufactured and shipped from overseas and that changes will take time to implement. HSE will accept the correct use of stainless steel cable ties as an interim measure until the end of December 2016. After that date Enforcement Notices will be considered on a case by case basis for inadequate gates and/or gate designs. During the interim period gate installations that do not meet the minimum standard set out in this document will be subject to appropriate enforcement action.

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