Head for heights

Published:  29 September, 2014

Working at height requires careful planning and the right equipment at all times

Whether it’s changing a light bulb, installing CCTV, cleaning shopfronts, hanging marketing banners and Christmas decorations or maintaining roofing, air-conditioning units or any number of other projects, working from height forms a regular and integral part of shopping centre operations.

Ensuring health and safety guidelines are met is essential when there is a requirement for staff to work from height and use access equipment, and there are a plethora of factors that need to be considered, whether that work is being carried out internally with the challenges associated with enclosed spaces or externally with complications posed by changeable weather. 

Christmas decoration supplier, KD Decoratives, regularly has staff installing displays at heights of 30m and has a strong track record in health and safety.

“Health & safety when working from height has always been absolutely key for KD Decoratives – it’s something we’re known in the industry for,” says managing director, Dean Morgan. “We’ve worked extensively to ensure our safety record so that our staff and customers know they’re in safe hands.”

“We find that health & safety in working at height can be oversimplified,” he adds, “but it’s a very, very complex multi-layered safety, insurance and welfare exercise. If you get it wrong the implications can be serious.”

KD have an in-house safety and risk assistance manager who visits all sites as a matter of course and specialist rope access technicians, and all staff undergo thorough on-going training.

“We have employees with decades of experience,” says Morgan. “Obviously we provide in-depth training for new staff but we also provide on-going training for existing staff to ensure they are familiar with new legislation and new access equipment.”  

According to Morgan, using the right access equipment is vital.

“Depending on the design of a shopping centre, access can be very restricted,” he says. “Sometimes there may only be four pieces of equipment that can get to the heights you need.” 

KD owns three spider lifts outright, preferring them for their versatility inside and out, but it hires 80 per cent of the equipment it uses. 

“Before we hire from a company we carry out a detailed investigation of the company’s corporate structure including financial wellbeing,” says Morgan. “We visit and audit the sites, check equipment availability and gage how they remove obsolete equipment before we make a decision on whether or not to hire from them.”

Shopping safety with Safesite 

Safesite’s BBA approved System 2000 edge protection system has been installed at Winsford Cross shopping centre in Cheshire to provide a permanent roof safety solution.

Winsford Cross shopping centre was designed to reflect the town’s historic link with the River Weaver and features sails and a glass canopy at the front of the centre as well as a glass shelter around the main shopping area.

Frequent access is required to the centre’s roof area for maintenance of plant units situated on the roof, as well as to the glazed canopy at the front for cleaning purposes.

Safesite’s System 2000 cantilever guardrail provided the ideal solution as the system’s flexible design meant it was able to cater for the centre’s unique design. The system has been installed to provide edge protection on the roof itself and to prevent access to areas which contain fragile materials such as the glass canopy and shelter. System 2000 is a freestanding structure which allows a permanent solution to roof safety without the need to mechanically fix the protection to the roof itself. The overcomes possible damage to the roof’s membrane, which can cause water penetration, costly repairs and insurance invalidation. 

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