Health and Safety in Composite Floor Deck Installation – the benefits of narrow sheets
The BCSA Accident Injury Analysis 2009 has just been released. The accident injury statistics of the BCSA members in 2009 has revealed that Reportable Accident Frequency Rate has been reduced by 60% in a ten year period. In the last five years ‘Falls from Height’ injuries have reduced from 14 in 2005 to 0 in 2009.
This demonstrates the high levels of safety that are now achieved in steel construction and indeed this includes metal floor decking installation. It is particularly notable than in the last five years falls from height have reduced from a very low level in 2005 to zero in 2009.
As safety improves however the focus shifts to manual handling and the more insidious and long term effects that poor practice can have on the health of participants. Thus in 2008 Christopher Quarrie HM Specialist Inspector in Human Factors & Ergonomics reported a survey on Manual Handling Risks Associated with Metal Decking Installation. This was the work of a joint working party which included the Health and Safety Executive, the Health and Safety Laboratory, Bovis Lend Lease and members of the steel construction industry investigating the ergonomic and manual handling risks associated with the installation of metal decking.
Whilst the general tone of the survey was positive, it was conclusively established that the lighter the decking sheets the lower was the negative impact on the installation personnel.
“The majority of the workforce (62.5%) stated that they would prefer to fix shorter sheets which are 600mm wide even though this would increase the overall number of sheets that they were required to fix each day.” In a separate question the majority (67.9%) also reported that they would prefer to fix lighter decking sheets. Whilst it is not always possible for decking contractors to reduce the length of the sheets without impacting on the engineers design, it is often possible for decking to be detailed and manufactured to double span rather than triple span. Hence 9m long sheets can often be reduced to a greater number of 6m length sheets, which from an ergonomic and manual handling perspective is thought to be generally preferable. The widths of decking sheets in the UK currently range from 1.00m to 600mm wide, the latter of which is always lighter for a comparable product. The workforce generally preferred to fix shorter sheets of a 600mm profiles (62.5%).
Corus Panels and Profiles offers a number of Composite Floor profiles which are 600mm wide, specifically to offer the advantages outlined above. ComFlor® 51, ComFlor® 60, ComFlor® 80, ComFlor® 210 and ComFlor® 225 all have this cover width.