Myths regarding the use of plastic safety caps
There are many myths relating to the use of plastic protective mushroom caps and safety strips used for covering reinforced steel starter bars.
One such myth being that plastic mushroom caps and safety strips provide anti impalement protection for steel starter bars.
During many investigations into this subject in the early days it became quite obvious that contrary to popular belief, the standard mushroom cap and latterly plastic protection strip were only a means of protection against cuts and abrasions and only suitable for being a visual aid. I found a report (link) from Western Australia where an individual from the same level falling onto steel starter bars had actually penetrated the bars through a positioned mushroom cap. This shocking incident motivated the investigation to carry out a short study where a 20kg bag of sand was dropped from 1m onto starter bars covered by standard plastic mushroom caps. What do you think the outcome was? Correct! The bag penetrated the bars!
Avoid prosecution and serious injury
Study concluded that mushroom caps were not suitable to provide anti impalement but were only used to provide visual aid and protection against cuts and abrasions. Local suppliers of the product then backed up this information.
As a company and ultimately an employer of workers, we should be aware of our duty that under the Health and Safety at Work act 1974 that every employer shall provide a safe place of work including safe access and egress from that place of work. Employers have a duty to eliminate and reduce foreseeable risk in the work place. Employers also have a duty to be aware of new innovations that can help eliminate and reduce foreseeable risk on site. If these duties are neglected and an accident occurs, your company would be liable for that accident and potentially result in prosecution in a magistrates or crown court under the HASAWA 1974.
What would be more devastating for an employer, worker, site manager, project manager, mother, father, son, daughter or colleague than to be informed after investigation that the fatal accident could have been avoided by simply using a quick and cheap alternative that provided anti impalement protection which was readily available to the company!
New innovations which do eliminate and reduce the risk of impalement are now available on the market and can be very easily sourced by employers. Mushroom safety caps do not provide anti-impalement protection.
Don’t be Bill or John!