Is now the time to think anti – impalement?

The basic mushroom protective safety cap has long been recognised as the industry standard for protective reinforced steel starter bars on UK construction sites. However is now the time to think anti impalement?

Although it is extremely difficult to acquire the actual statistics on impalement injuries, we are all aware of the repetitive incidents and accidents caused by impalement on steel starter bars; these injuries potentially causing loss of life!  In fact only in 2011 an operative was fatality impaled on a row of unprotected starter bars working for a large UK construction company.

This knowledge certainly had an impact on me. When working alongside my business partner while working together on a large project as site managers, he explained that in 1998 a colleague had unfortunately impaled himself on four starter bars after being bumped onto starter bars by an unsecured 2 ¼ ton pan shutter.  The individual luckily survived but not without a problematic recovery after the horrific incident.

These incidents resonated with us both and when realising that there wasn’t anything available that seemed to fit the purpose of anti- impalement, we sought to create a solution to our problem.

As managers, we all realise our duties to our workers and colleagues, endeavouring to do our best to ensure our operatives return home safely to their families. Many times I have thought of worst case scenarios on site and wondered the consequences of any accident that could of potentially happened if something went wrong. Fortunately not experiencing any significant incidents during my time as a site manager.

We are also aware of our duties to our employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees.

The important thing we all need to consider is that under the HASAWA 1974 the employer has a duty to provide a safe place of work.

Section 2(1) of HASAWA 1974 states:

“So far as reasonably practicable as regards any place of work under the employers control, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health and provision and maintenance of means of access and egress from it that are safe and without such risks.”

Therefore as employers, manager’s, health and safety practitioners, we need to be aware of new innovations relating to anti impalement devices for reinforced steel starter bars.

Previously managers may have been forgiven for rebar incidents as they would have provided what was deemed as industry standard protection for rebar safety, however times have changed.

Due to new innovations in this field, there are now devices available to managers and operatives which will greatly reduce the risk of impalement and provide a safe place of work.  These devices are safer, save time, and save cost – providing a reasonably practicable solution which could potentially save an operative’s life.

Now why wouldn’t you consider that!