Permanent and Temporary Edge Protection – Part Two

By Jason Godfrey, General Manager

In this Two Part Blog Series I’m looking at how the differing regulations and standards relating to guardrails cause confusion when specifying a permanent or temporary edge protection system.  Last week I covered the significant areas to consider in the Building Regulations Part K (Protection from falling),  EN 13374 and Eurocode 1: Actions on Structures – Part 1-4: General Actions – Wind Loads.

This week I’m concluding the topic by looking at EN 14122-3 and why this standard is not generally applied in the UK for free standing rooftop edge protection, and when you should apply the Work at Height Regulations rather than the Building Regulations.


EN 14122-3

Confusion relating to the standards and their relevance has led to some companies commissioning independent assessment and testing by institutions, such as, ”The British Board of Agrément.”  

Where there are no specific standards relating to a product, it is essential to establish the product is “fit for the intended use.”  In situations such as this, some European authorities have applied standards such as EN 14122-3 Safety of machinery. Permanent means of access to machinery, stairways, stepladders and guardrails 2010.

While this standard does provide a uniformly distributed load and a deflection criteria it is intended for guardrails around plant and machinery.  It does not refer to roof pitch, roof membrane, wet or dry conditions, upstand details or toe-board requirement and so is inappropriate for edge protection specification on roofs.




Work at Height Regulations

Introduced in 2005 the Work at Height Regulations require all those that have a duty of care to ensure that work at height is carried out safely. Solutions need to be suitable and sufficient to ensure prevention of both persons and objects from falling.

These Regulations revoked Regulation 13 of the Workplace Health Safety & Welfare Regulations 1992 and Regulations 6-8 of the Construction Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1996.

In relation to Schedule 2 of the Regulations, “Construction Work” (Temporary provisions of protection) states that the top guardrail or other similar means of protection must be at least 950mm high. Toe boards should be suitable and sufficient to prevent the fall of any person, or any material or object, from any place of work. The intermediate guardrail or similar means of protection must be positioned so that any gap between it and other means of protection does not exceed 470mm.


Guardrail with toeboards

Permanent protection barriers need to be suitable and sufficient and must comply with the Building Regulations Part K criteria in relation to height.  As a result, the 470mm gap stipulation would not be possible to achieve.   However, if the “existing place of work” becomes “Construction Work” then the Work at Height Regulations would take precedence so you would need to consider toe boards and further intermediate guardrails in order to comply with the 470mm gap.


In Conclusion

There needs to be a clear understanding of the various standards and regulations in order to specify an edge protection system that is fit for purpose.  Incorrect specification can be fatal.

Many manufacturers will claim compliance to certain standards but are they really complying with the correct standards?  Always request test reports as well as data to demonstrate that the system is suitable for the intended use including the roof pitch, membrane, both wet and dry, performance and state whether the system was tested with or without an upstand.

If guardrails are to be used in a permanent application (1100mm high), it may be appropriate to adopt the loading criteria of EN 13374 in relation to the frequency of access and controls in place. A risk assessment should also be completed in order to determine if the product is fit for use.

The risk assessment will determine whether it’s necessary to use toe-boards or include a 470mm gap between principal/intermediate guardrails. In many instances where a permanent guardrail is required the loadings suggested within EN 13374 may be appropriate as the roof structure may not be able to cope with the higher loadings suggested in the Building Regulations or other standards relating to permanent systems.

If you’re still not sure on the correct specification or would like some advice, please feel free to call our technical department on Tel: 01293 529977 or email: [email protected].

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