New legislative responsibilities and a more stringent Health and Safety Executive mean facilities managers find themselves with more legal duties than ever before. This has spurred an increased focus on rooftop safety, writes John Hynes.
In the not too distant past, it was considered acceptable to send up a couple of employees in a cherry picker, or bolt on a bog standard ladder when more regular roof access was required. Where training was undertaken for employees, it was often part of the onboarding process, with little in the way of regular reviews or refreshers.
Fortunately, the vast majority of facilities managers and building owners today view well-trained staff or contractors as essential, and understand the importance of permanent safe access provision on their premises. This is particularly true at sites where temporary access provision could compromise operations – for example in distribution centres where loading bays blocked by a MEWP would cause significant disruption.
Yet even with this understanding now widespread, there is still scope for confusion. There are multiple means of permanent safe access, but they do not all provide the same benefits. Facilities managers need to consider the most appropriate access provision for their building type. This decision must include an assessment of the competence of the individuals likely to undertake the task – an area often poorly understood. It must also consider the frequency at which access will be required – a figure often underestimated.
To help facilities managers navigate this complex landscape, we have developed the Access Management Risk Assessment Matrix (AMRAM).
AMRAM helps facilities managers to assess the relative risks inherent to different methods of permanent roof access, including caged ladders, traditional fixed ladders and vertical personal fall arresters. It maps the severity and probability of injuries occurring for a range of different scenarios, with variables including the height of the roof, competence of the worker and frequency of access required. Relative risk scores are given for each different scenario, with the final results banded into low, moderate, high and unacceptable risks.
AMRAM allows facilities managers to make more informed decisions on access provision on their premises. It’s a valuable tool for checking compliance against duties, either to make upgrades where required, or to act as evidence that due consideration has been given to providing the safest system of work that is reasonably practicable.
Using the matrix can also give facilities managers a useful reference point that enables more rapid completion of risk assessments. It effectively allows them to pre-emptively assess the risk of the access component of all individual jobs they may manage in the future. In this regard, it can also help with the selection of appropriate contractors for specific tasks, where in-house expertise doesn’t meet the required competence level for acceptable risk.
We hope the Access Management Risk Assessment Matrix proves to be a very useful tool for facilities managers. When combined with due consideration of future access requirements and worker competence, it should help ensure the most appropriate permanent safe access solution is selected.
By using the tool to make these decisions - as well as to complete risk assessments and manage contractor selection – facilities managers can increase safety, support compliance, and reduce the total cost of roof-based work they manage.
By John Hynes, Head of Safe Access, Fixfast
How does AMRAM work?
AMRAM collates a number of different parameters to create a complete picture of the relative risk inherent to a specific means of access.
The first of these is the severity of probable harm should an incident occur. The matrix assigns a numerical value to the three different categories of injury specified by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE); Minor, Specific/7-day and Fatal.
Next, the matrix maps these injury levels against the probability of them occurring for a range of typical maintenance task frequencies; Annual (such as roof inspections), Monthly (such as filter cleaning/changing) and Daily (such as plant inspections).
Finally, provision is made for the different levels of work at height competence of staff and contractors carrying out a specific job. This is a new approach developed by Fixfast, in recognition of the fact that there is confusion around what makes a worker competent, and the gulf in experience between a rope access worker experienced in multiple access scenarios, and a well-trained facilities technician conducting basic rooftop plant inspections on a particular building. The matrix assesses incident probabilities for workers with a Basic level of competence (limited recent training and experience), Advanced (more comprehensive recent training, and a broader range of experience) and Expert (extensive training and professional certifications, the broadest possible experience).
Article written by John Hynes | Published 23 June 2017