With a shiny new fall protection system installed and signed off, you might think it was ‘job done’. Not so fast: to promote the ongoing safety and welfare of workers at height, maintain full regulatory compliance each year and minimise unexpected maintenance bills, you’ll need an aftercare package.
Following the installation of a new fall protection system, it’s easy to forget that the equipment will be there, and required for use at any time, for many years to come. Immediately after system installation owners should ensure they are in receipt of key documentation, including a Certificate of Installation and an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) manual. The latter is an important reference for both operatives and third parties using, inspecting or maintaining the system. An O&M Manual details what has been installed, when, and how it should be used – including any manufacturer guidance. It will also detail any site-specific aspects that may be relevant to safe use.
Currently in consultation, revisions to British Standards will soon create a new code of practice (BS7883:2019). This will further mandate the provision and contents of a technical file and O&M manual for fall protection equipment installations on every site.
Where a fall protection systems installation team is engaged directly by the owner of the property (as opposed to a main or roofing contractor), there may be an initial system demonstration. This, however, must not be confused with the need to arrange quality fall protection training, providing the comprehensive theoretical and practical skills and user competency certification allowing operatives to work at height.
A full safety service
Where Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) needs to be provided on-site, aftercare partners offer an important service. Fall protection aftercare partners are concerned with the entire hierarchy of control around working at height. HCL Safety, for example, looks at each individual installation, checking that suitable PPE is carefully specified and selected, and is of high quality.
To maintain compliance, fall protection equipment must be regularly inspected and maintained. The party responsible for upkeep arranges inspections every six or twelve months depending on the assets in place.
Aftercare partners such as HCL Safety routinely send out reminders to their clients before examination is due. An assessor will attend to check the condition of the equipment matches the original installation, documenting ongoing safety compliance. If there is wear or deterioration, the equipment must be taken out of commission until it has gone through basic maintenance or has been replaced. Sometimes inspection and maintenance visits are combined, and often anything more than basic maintenance will require a return visit. It’s all about making sure the most appropriate course of action for the system in question is taken.
Fall protection systems present a significant investment. Combining regular inspections and maintenance also maximises the lifetime of the system, preventing costly deterioration through neglect and so reducing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Aftercare providers also keep important records of the building, installation and inspections – invaluable should ownership or facilities management arrangements change.
Ultimately, aftercare partners exist to give users peace of mind that installed fall protection systems enable safe working at height. Appointing a partner does more than simply adhere to regular maintenance and inspection compliance. It also provides an independent voice to highlight any practice or safety concerns, and signpost access to specialist safety and competence training where needed.
This article was written by Taylor Williams you can contact them for further information