The design, installation and completion of metal decking projects must be arranged so that the Health & Safety of the operatives undertaking the work, of other trades on site, and of members of the public is ensured.
A number of key factors are paramount in achieving this goal:
Management & supervision
Ensure supervision is experienced in metal decking and that a suitable qualification such as SMSTS is held. Pre-start visits allow agreement of programme, sequence and co-ordination with other trades. The planning and arrangement of deliveries to allow effective positioning on the steel frame (usually by the erectors) is essential in minimising issues with manual handling. Robust management of the workforce in relation to Safety, Quality and Production ensures safe completion. Handover procedures should be used to ensure works are complete for following trades.
All companies should have a framework of Policies & Procedures relating to the management of Health & Safety.
Contract specific health & safety documentation, including Method Statements, Risk Assessments and COSHH data sheets are available for all hazards / activities associated with the handling and fixing of metal decking and associated accessories. The communication of this to the work force, ensures that all operatives understand the risks and preventative measures that have been agreed. An initial toolbox talk on the method statement, followed by further weekly talks ensures procedures on site are appropriate to the ever changing construction environment. Records of inductions and all toolbox talks should be maintained.
Typical hazards associated with metal decking and associated preventative measures are:
- Falls from Height – handrails, safety nets, suitable access to level
- Hot Works – exclusion zones, removal of flammable materials, fire extinguishers
- Use of Cartridge Tools – competency and training, PPE
- Hand Arm Vibration – management procedures
- Noise – PPE, management procedures, suitable work equipment
- Cuts to Hands – PPE
- Electrical Equipment – maintenance and 110v tools
- Falling Materials from Height – trim and tool tethers, loading out procedures
- Removal of Waste – skips, loading bays etc.
- Adverse Weather – management control
Task Specific PPE will be detailed in Risk Assessments, however the minimum requirements are:
- Hard Hat to BS EN 397
- Safety Boots with heavy duty steel toecap and steel mid sole
- Hi Vis clothing to BS EN 471 Class 1
- Cut Resistant Gloves to BS EN 388 – Reflex K+ Kevlar Coated
- Hearing protection to BS EN 352-1
- Tinted Welding Goggles
- Eye Protection to BS EN 166 class 1 – clear lenses for cutting/ shot firing, smoked lenses for stud welding
In accordance with the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and given that for metal deck installation ‘avoid work at height’ and ‘use work equipment to prevent falls’ is not reasonably practicable, all contracts need to adopt a system of work that ‘minimises the distance and consequence of a fall’. Methods of fall arrest used are safety netting for steel frame structures and airbags or similar for all other situations. Where safety netting is required, this must be undertaken by FASET trained personnel. The contract specific method statement and risk assessment will detail the preferred methods for both fall arrest and installation.
Ensure that all operatives have received manufacturers training in the use of cartridge tools and together with that for abrasive wheels, stud welding equipment, fire safety training and have achieved the appropriate level of CSCS qualification. Safety netters will be FASET trained and hold IPAF certificates and using MEWPs.
- DON’T land packs on the frame in the incorrect position – It is essential that the decking packs are loaded out in the position indicated decking layout drawings.
- DON’T leave any decking sheet unfixed – Unfixed decking sheets pose a danger to others on site, ensure that as areas are being laid that they are not left unattended until fixed. Also at the end of each day, any unfixed sheets in decking packs should be secured down.
- DON’T put heavy loads on unprotected deck – Other trades must be made aware of the storage capacity of decking prior to concrete and the appropriate procedures for locating heavy loads on timbers laid on beam lines.
- DON’T cut holes/voids in the deck before concreting –If additional holes are required to be cut into the decking before concreting, refer https://smdltd.co.uk/tgn-online/5.6_-_Forming_service_holes for guidance.
- DON’T heap concrete or drop from any height – Following concrete trades must be aware of good practice principles when pouring on suspended metal decks, so that overloading is avoided and any propping requirements are in place.