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Permanent roof edge protection

raydetinu 8 months ago   Reply

A new project we are working on, has PV panels all over the flat roof.

Now as PD, my recommendation is, as the panels are situated near the edge of the roof, there should be edge protection, as peiodic servicing will be required.

The Architect does not want this on his roof, as it will spoil the elevation?

I understand that if there is clear distance of over 2m from roof edge to equipment, then a fall restraint system could be employed, or other safe method of working.

Any views or guidance?

Beagle 8 months ago   Reply
If you had a designated path (500mm slabs) of which the outside edge was 2m from the roof edge this would OK and there would be no need to use railings or a restraint system. Signage also to ensure that contractors must not used designated path only. You want to avoid installing restraint systems if you can. Why architects cant specify 1.1m parapet walls on large flat roofs is bemusing.
John Anderson 8 months ago   Reply
Beagle, It could be suggested that most architects would prefer to incorporate permanent roof edge protection in their designs. Unfortunately planning (and clients) often counteract design intent stipulating building style and aesthetics in preference to safety in design.
Beagle 8 months ago   Reply
John, you are blaming clients and I am blaming architects for poor design. But we both agree on the solution. I must say though one renowned architect where I was involved put a 750mm parapet wall on a large building so roof restraint systems and access management systems had to be used to access extensive roof plant. Another 300mm higher and none of this would be required. Perhaps it is because the professionals with safety knowledge and experience are not having a voice or sufficient influence.
Safety Provisions 8 months ago   Reply

BS5260:2012 Code of Practice for the design of buildings incorporating safe work at height will help. It amongst of things defines what is a fall arrest system, work restraint system and rope access. Permanent edge protection is the preferred option but design is often a chose with all options having negative and positive elements.

You could use a work restraint system but I am not aware of a 2m rule. BS5260 mentions designated walkways but I would prefer railings. There is another BS that relates to gantries and walkways.

If the roof is totally covered by PV then I would say a rethink is required.

Be wary, servicing is over sold by some PV installers! The actual panels require little maintenance, (assuming they are good quality, self-cleaning glass etc.) and servicing is primary an electrical test that can be done from inside the building. Inspection can be done remotely using drones.

Ultimately it comes down to the design intent or architectural nature of the building.  The design intent is basically what the Client wants driven by the architect within the constraints of planning and CDM 2015. Often you have to work within the design intent, just document the decisions.

Ask the architect for the maintenance strategy for the PV. They, as required under CDM, need to consider the risks and on large buildings is common practice that maintenance strategy is developed.

To be fair to architects I have seen some building made very ugly by the addition of roof access.

George 8 months ago   Reply
My understanding is that there is no safe distance rule and edge protection
is required. Edge protection must be of a type that cannot easily be
defeated. you cannot use tape or bunting. Without barriers, and there needs
to be a good reason for not using barriers you are down to the alternative
means of fall restraint and arrest.

be safe
Frank 8 months ago   Reply

As A PV installer I can give you my opinion.

PV panels need minimum maintenance. A periodic annual clean is advised as the performance does suffer which is easily verified by the readout on the inverters. If a panel needs replacing for any reason this may require a number of panels to be removed to get to the faulty one. During install we have safety nets and scaffold edge protection  always. Cleaning is done from usually a cherry picker and long water fed lances. On some roofs we instal a mansafe system to which you can attach a harness, this is not mandatory. Should you need to clean the panels then a new safe system of work is required, should you need to replace a panel again a safe system of work is required and these are bespoke to the installation. There is no real reason for fitting permanent edge protection or handrails as they are only accessed in a failure situation. In this instance a whole new set of RAMS is required and carried out by competent contractors. If the customer insists that they will clean the panels themselves using people not familiar with working at height then a permanent protection system is the best solution,be it edge protection or mansafe harness points. Either way as the panels often cover the entire roof it is not possible to access them without removing some, none of the panels on the market are designed to be walked upon.

Regards 

Frank

raydetinu 8 months ago   Reply

Thanks, for responses.

It looks like somebody is going to have to do  a risk analysis and a suitable method statement to be put in the file etc. With agreement of the client! Will discuss with installers about servicing and cleaning (Client ).

See how we go.

I like fall restraint systems, but have heard HSE have taken action even though they were in place,  somebody fell off, because they did not use it! What can you do! Edge protection seems the only SAFE way to go?

Frank 8 months ago   Reply

You have answered your own question "It looks like somebody is going to have to do  a risk analysis and a suitable method statement "  I imagine the HSE took action on the fall restraint system as it was not used, no training , no supervision. All of this is a requirement of WAH regs. Dont be fooled by thinking that edge protection is without risk, you have to provide a safe permanent access and risk assess for emergency escape, and can the people on the roof hear an alarm. Yes edge protection is a solution but one which is not widely adopted due to the infrequency of access. Just take a look around and see how many factories, offices, warehouses, shops, etc with PV have edge protection? Maintenance is just that and must have all of the requirements of WAH when carried out. PV needs absolute minimum aside from an annual clean its not like a machine that requires regular adjustment, lubrication etc. the efficiency of each panel or group of panels is permanently displayed on the inverters so maintenance can easily be planned.