“The purpose of this alert is to advise employers and employees of the dangers of falling against exposed reinforcement bars, even if they have plastic protective covers (known as rebar-caps) attached. It also provides advice to suppliers of rebar-caps.
An incident occurred in New South Wales in which a person stumbled and fell, impaling himself on an exposed reinforcement bar. The bar had a rebar-cap on it, but the cap offered no protection against impalement as the weight of the worker against the rebar-cap was sufficient for it to be pierced by the bar.
Research carried out following the incident included tests that involved dropping a 20kg bag of sand one meter onto a vertical reinforcement bar. This showed that standard rebar-caps provide little, if any, protection against impalement on reinforcement bars should a person fall against them, even for a fall on the same level.
Any protection offered by the rebar-caps, no matter how slight, was greatly reduced if they were the wrong size for the bar or were incorrectly fitted. These findings were supported by information obtained from a number of suppliers who stated that the rebar-caps are only intended to provide visual warning of a hazard and protection against brush contact with burred ends of the bars.
They are NOT a means to control the risk of impalement.”
Source: Extract Safety Bulletin: www.worksafe.vic.gov.au.