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The EN388 Standard Explained

The development of standards to compare the performance of PPE products has significantly improved the ability of safety managers to select appropriate PPE.
  • What is EN388?
  • Summary of Tests Involved in EN388

    From chemical resistance to fire and flame resistance, the standards have helped us determine the appropriate product for a given application. However, the standards cannot be solely relied on when making a decision. An adequate assessment must be made of how the standard should apply to the specific use. In other words, we need to use common sense. Nowhere is this more relevant than in the blade cut and the puncture tests associated with EN388.

    Let’s briefly review the European EN 388 standard which is designed to assess the performance of a fabric or layers of fabric for their ability to resist heavy rubbing, cutting by a blade or sharp object, tearing, and puncture by a pointed object. The test procedure includes a separate test for each of these properties, and a performance level is awarded according to each test result, for example a material with an abrasion resistance of between 100 and 500 cycles would be awarded level 1. Read more about the update proposed to EN 388:

    The minimum test results required to achieve the various performance levels are listed in the table. When a protective glove has been approved for CE marking to the EN388 standard, these test levels are quoted as four numbers below the EN388 pictogram, the numbers are always shown in the order in which the tests are described. Please note the progression between the minimum results required to meet the increasing performance levels. This means, for example, that the increase in test performance required to improve from blade cut index level 4 to index level 5 is eight times that needed to improve from level 1 to level 2. Also, where multiple layers of material are involved, the abrasion and tear resistance levels are derived from the most resistant of the individual layers, not the combination of layers. It is important to note that blade cut resistance is the only test parameter where a performance level 5 is awarded.

    Cut tests have always had tremendous variability, and the ratings can give a false sense of comfort to the user, who might think that since it is a level 5, they are protected. Within the blade cut resistance level of 5, there is a wide range of performance. We often hear safety professionals and glove manufactures speak of gloves being a “low 5” or a “high 5”. So, it must mean that there is a need for additional stratification. Then, why don’t we add a level 6 and a level 7 so that will allow us to better stratify and qualify the level of protection? A glove manufacturer can have a product that can withstand just over 2000 grams of cut resistance (most likely qualifying for level 5) and be classified in the same level as a glove that may take well over 5000 grams of cut resistance.

    If you require a Level 5 glove in your factory, you may not be getting the “best” protection available, you may in fact just barely be providing your employees with the level of protection they really need. Wouldn’t you want to know the difference? So if you could require a level 6 or level 7, and be more able to ensure that the gloves meet your requirements, and provide the maximum protection, wouldn’t that make more sense?

    Real application tests are vital

    It should be clear that cut levels are only a place to start looking, and are not the complete analysis for selecting PPE. The standardised tests can give us a directional indication of where to start looking, and then we can confirm that performance with real application tests in our workplace. Furthermore, real-world tests are needed because, for example, the way materials cut on a standard test machine is very different from the way those materials would cut if used in the palm of a glove that is immobilised under load.

    Importance of puncture resistance testing

    Perhaps an even more important performance area is that of puncture resistance. A safety manager once summed it up, “Why are we considering the results of a test that essentially measures the puncture resistance of a roofing nail [the EN388 probe] when I am trying to protect employees from hypodermic needle threats?” Good question.

    The EN388 test for puncture resistance has three critical flaws as it relates to testing new material technology and new hazards. First, the probe is not adequate for testing the range of puncturing hazards that are prevalent in the market today. Second, the speed at which the probe moves is not representative of any application that you might find in the market (100mm per minute? Does anything move that slowly?). Third, it doesn’t allow for the fact that contact with the glove’s protective material can alter the probe and change future results.

    So why the disconnect? It is not that the standards were not well developed. A lot of thought was put into the development of a reliable and consistent measurement. The problem lies in the lack of good alternative test probes that are consistently produced and the evolution of new technologies, products and materials that simply don’t test the same way that other materials test. HexArmor® is one such example. This range of new product utilizes a patented technology that consists of composite materials that don’t behave the way typical leathers, nitriles, rubbers, and aramids test.

    During the EN388 blade cut resistance test, HexArmor products actually wear out the circular blade before it cuts through! The EN388 puncture test also does not allow for the capabilities of the new materials. HexArmor products were developed to provide puncture resistance to sharps such as needles, glass shards, wood slivers, etc. Many of these real-world puncture hazards don’t behave at all like the standard EN388 test probe, so the puncture resistance associated with the EN388 doesn’t give the user a good idea of how the product will perform against the specific hazard.

    Developing a supplemental test

    So, what should we do to address these flaws in the testing standards? First, let’s look at the current test probe. The need is to develop a separate test for hypodermic needle resistance instead of using the standard probe. This is a good start, and SATRA, a UK-based testing house and CE notified body, is developing a supplemental test that does just that. This is a step in the right direction. However, the supplemental test is done with a 21 gauge needle only. Is this sufficient to understand the level of protection being offered by a product?

    A medical needle looks very different to the tip of the standard probes used in tests such as the EN 388 and the ASTM 1790. Medical needles are optimised for skin penetration. It has a long sharp cutting edge or bevel, which actually cuts the material being tested as it pierces the fabric. Standard probes don’t cut through; they actually stress the material until it forces the fibres apart, or until they break. Clearly, these are very different sets of physics, and as such, they should be tested with a different standardised test.

    As we consider a new standard test, we need to allow for the fact that even something as precise as a medical instrument has variability in the shape and cutting edge along the point of the needle. Needles of the same type and gauge have small differences in their dimensions and strengths. Different needles can also have different bevel angles and vary from one bevel to 3 bevels. How do the tests allow for these differences and would they affect the puncture test? Furthermore, these needles are easily blunted as they come in contact with hard objects.

    So it should be obvious that in the test labs at HexArmor, we have observed this variability in the performance of the needles. Both have been used as test needles in testing HexArmor products, but notice how one needle has a curved and hooked tip. Clearly there is some variability in the manufacturing of needles that would need to be considered to select a probe with consistent tip strength. Also, if we were to reuse this needle for subsequent puncture test, it would perform substantially different (registering higher force required to puncture) from the one on the right. So, another factor to consider in our development of an improved test is the reuse of the probe. EN388 currently requires the “checking the probe every 500 uses”. This will not work with hypodermic needle. The development of this test needs to allow for replacement of the needle for each individual test run. Also, needle size affects the puncture test results. How a material resists a 25 gauge needle will be remarkably different on how it might resist a 30 guage needle, common for insulin injections.

    Despite the standards that exist today we must make our own conclusions about the suitably of the tests used to measure a particular hazard, such as needlestick resistance. A product that scores a puncture level 4 on the EN388 may or may not be good for hypodermic needlestick resistance. A separate test is required to know for certain.

    As for assessing other hazards such as puncture hazards from wood, glass, etc we would need yet another test. Does a sliver of wood perform like a needle? It depends. It most cases it does not. However a standard test for everything becomes less practical. This is when real-world application testing becomes necessary, and we have to transition from using the EN388 results as the final answer to using them as an initial guide. As you look to make decisions on PPE selection, consider the EN388 results and any supplemental tests, but then do your own real-world safety test on the job. Make sure that the tests are representative of the hazard you are trying to mitigate.

    Ask the following questions to help you make a well-informed decision about your PPE:

  • How much weight is on the cutting or puncturing force
  • How fast is it moving, and is it high impact or low impact
  • What are the known weaknesses of the PPE and can the hazard exploit that weakness

    The market is changing rapidly. New materials are improving our ability to protect from threats that were previously elusive. There is certainly a need for new standards to help us measure these threats, but most importantly we need to be aware of what the current standard tests are actually measuring. New and better tests will help, but it will always come down to using common sense and performing your own due diligence.



  • Fundamental elements of fall prevention

    Working at height remains one of the biggest causes of occupational fatalities and major injuries. Cases commonly involve over-reaching, over-balancing or the failure of a fragile surface. Falls from height can also be due to unguarded holes in floors such as hatchways, inspection holes and pits, and from falls into process tanks and machinery.

  • Hierarchy of control measures
  • Prioritising collective measures
  • A safe place of work
  • Recent cases

    Falls from Height Risk Assessment Guide

    Other significant hazards associated with working at height include falling objects and the potential for a working platform to collapse or overturn as well as contact with overhead electrical services.

    The exact height at which employers have to implement controls will vary from country to country, but generally, work at height can be taken to mean any work where, if there are no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury (through a fragile roof, for example). It should be remembered that access and egress to a workplace could also constitute working at height.

    Workers in maintenance and construction are particularly at risk, but many other people in a variety of jobs could also be at risk of falling from height. Such professions include: painters, decorators and window cleaners and those who carry out ad hoc work without proper training, planning or equipment.

    “working at height remains one of the biggest causes of occupational fatalities and major injuries”

    Whatever the task, any working at height needs to be planned in advance, with careful consideration given to the selection and use of work equipment and means of escape in an emergency.

    When it’s unavoidable

    Work at height (where unavoidable) should preferably be carried out from the safety of a platform with suitable edge protection in place, but sometimes this may not be possible. In such situations, a ladder may have to be used; however, ladders are best used only as a means of gaining access to and from a workplace. They should only be used at a workplace for light work of short duration and only after careful hazard identification, risk analysis and planning.

    If a fall from height does occur, the consequences will depend on many factors such as the distance fallen, the nature of the surface landed on, how the person lands and the age and health of the individual. The severity of the injury is increased for example, when the fall is into the path of a moving vehicle (or machinery) or into a tank which contains a hazardous substance.

    Hierarchy of control measures

    When planning any activities which may involve working at height, the following hierarchy of control measures should be considered:

  • Avoidance where possible, of working at height
  • Working from an existing place of work, or using an existing means of access and degress
  • Provision of suitable work equipment to prevent a fall occurring, e.g. edge protection
  • Provision of work equipment to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall, e.g. fall arrest systems
  • Instruction and training and/or other means

    Where possible, working at height should be avoided, usually by carrying out tasks from the ground. Some practical examples include using extendable tools to remove the need to climb a ladder. Other examples include the installation of cables at ground level, lowering a lighting rig to ground level or assembly of edge protection on the ground.

    A safe place of work

    Where work at height cannot be avoided, an existing safe place of work should be used. These workplaces (and means of access or egress) should:

  • Be stable and of sufficient strength and rigidity for their purpose
  • Rest on stable and suitably strong surfaces
  • Be of sufficient size to allow safe use for persons, plant and material
  • Have suitable means for preventing a fall
  • Have a surface which has no gap through which a person or material could fall and cause injury
  • Be constructed, used and maintained to prevent the risks of slipping, tripping or any person being trapped between them and any adjacent structure

    For example, an existing flat roof with permanent edge protection may be used for work at height activities.

    When carrying out such roof work, fragile surfaces present a significant risk – no person should pass or work on or near to a fragile surface unless it is not reasonable to carry out the work elsewhere.

    Where it isn’t reasonable to avoid work on or near a fragile surface:

    Suitable protection, such as platforms, coverings, crawling boards or guardrails, must be provided

    Where this is not practicable, measures should be taken to minimise the distance and consequence of any fall, e.g. fall arrest systems, safety nets and air bags



  • Construction sites can be hazardous places at the best of times but during the autumn and winter months the risks to the health, safety and wellbeing of workers increase. It is important to ensure procedures are in place to protect staff as the days grow shorter and temperatures fall, says OnSite Support’s Damian Lynes.

    According to the Health and Safety Executive’s 2018 statistics, nearly a quarter of the 58,000 non-fatal injuries to construction workers each year are caused by slips, trips or falls, the risks of which obviously increase over the autumn and winter, with shorter days, falling leaves, wet weather, ice and snow.

    The risk of other accidents also rises at this time of year. For example, people can rush jobs to get out of the cold and may lose concentration, increasing the risk of mistakes being made; or numb fingers could mean dropped tools or materials.

    Cold and wet weather can take a toll on people’s physical and mental wellbeing too: the heart has to work harder in colder temperatures, people can become tired much faster and shorter days can lead to depression and Seasonal affective disorder.

    So, having a clear strategy in place for colder, darker months can not only keep people safer and healthier but can also help maintain productivity and reduce the potential impact on the bottom line. Here are some things to consider:

    Ensure staff take regular breaks in a warm, dry space

    People can become more tired more quickly in colder weather, so it is crucial to ensure they take regular breaks (more frequently than at other times of the year), to reduce the risk of accidents. Providing a warm and dry refuge, where workers can have a warm drink, dry off and even change clothing (bearing in mind the need to provide separate changing rooms for men and women), can raise morale and improve productivity.

    Make sure pedestrian routes and working areas are safe

    With the risk of slips, trips and falls increasing, it is important to ensure pedestrian routes and working areas are well-lit and kept clear of potential hazards. So, ensure leaves are swept up (or cut down trees if necessary); grit paths, place mats at entrances, invest in signage and put up lighting in areas with lots of traffic. It is also a good idea to discourage people from taking shortcuts across grass or muddy ground, as they can quickly become slippery.

    Provide suitable clothing

    Of course, like at any other time of the year, site clothing – from storm weather jackets to thermal hard hat liners and face masks – has to be comfortable, safe and appropriate for the conditions. Hi-vis clothing is particularly important when working outside at this time of year, with low light and poor visibility conditions – 9% of the 38 fatalities in construction in 2018 were caused by being struck by a moving vehicle.

    However, it is worth considering that people can still become uncomfortably warm carrying out physically-demanding tasks, even on the coldest days, and may remove clothing, putting themselves at risk – again, regular breaks are a great way of dealing with potential issues.

    Provide suitable hand protection

    As well as protecting workers hands from harm, winter gloves should also comply with EN511:2006 Gloves giving protection from cold. This standard applies to any gloves providing protection down to -50°C; they should offer resistance to convective cold, contact cold and water. They also need to balance safety with thermal protection, because dexterity has to be largely unaffected (to avoid the situation where they are taken off by the wearer, to allow them to carry out a task).

    Provide suitable footwear

    Footwear needs to be durable, comfortable and above all, safe – a decent pair of safety boots will improve performance, as workers can stay on their feet for longer. For the colder months, as well as complying with EN ISO 20345:2011 Personal protective equipment – safety footwear, boots and shoes should be fully waterproof (with a WR classification) and insulated against the cold (the CI classification indicates the upper has been tested for insulation against the cold down to -17°C).

    Tether tools when working at height

    OnSite Winter constructionDropped tools can be lethal on site and the risk increases in cold and wet weather, as hands become cold and numb. While most tools are not designed for working at height specifically, there is a wide range of belts, harnesses and tethers for almost all handheld tools, from spanners to power drills, designed for any number of tasks.

    Avoid the spread of germs

    Keeping communal areas clean and hygienic is particularly important during the winter months, with more people suffering from colds and flu. Educate site workers on the importance of washing hands after using the toilet, ensure kitchens are wiped down (and dried thoroughly) – it is better to clean things after use, rather than once a week. The NHS recommends that disposable cloths or paper towels are preferable to prevent the spread of germs; reusable cloths should be disinfected and washed at 60°C.
    Here, SHP looks at how to reduce occupational skin disorders when working outdoors in the winter.

    Finally, raise awareness of mental wellbeing

    According to the HSE, there were an estimated 14,000 work-related cases of stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing), in construction last year (or about one sixth of ill-health in the sector).

    The winter months can be hard for some people, particularly those suffering from Seasonal affective disorder. So, as well as ensuring workers keep an eye out for signs of physical symptoms (such as fatigue, drowsiness and shivering) in both themselves and their colleagues, they should also be made aware of the signs of mental health issues; employers should also provide easy access to advice and support.

    Together, these elements will provide a basis for a clear strategy that will keep workers as warm, dry and comfortable as possible, protecting their health and wellbeing, while maintaining productivity during the colder months.


    Debbie Janson is undertaking research into the usability of safety footwear with the University of Bath, an important topic given the impact it has on many working lives. John Kersey discusses her work on this, along with other important influences in her life.

    Your background is as an engineer, what prompted you to take that up as a career?

    Debbie Janson (DJ): “I was always creative and good at problem solving when I was at secondary school. I studied physics and maths at A-level and it was just a natural progression to move into engineering, studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath. I’m so fortunate that my career has been very varied and has given me a huge range of experiences, from facilitating aircraft being assembled to analysing what happens to pilots’ necks when they eject from fighter jets!”

    I greatly enjoyed your presentation at the European HSE Forum 4.0 in Prague and then meeting you. What inspired you to look at safety footwear as a research area at the University of Bath?

    (DJ): “Thanks – I really enjoyed doing it – it’s always good to share my research! My inspiration comes from having spent so much of my career wearing uncomfortable safety footwear. It dawned on me when I purchased my latest pair that in all that time, nothing really seemed to have changed. Okay, now there are a few more styles available for women, but really, a lot of them were just men’s footwear. It may seem trivial but it’s really difficult to dress in the way that you want to, knowing that you’ve got to pull on the men’s safety boots when you arrive at work. As a female engineer, I’ve worked in some very challenging environments which isn’t helped when you can’t feel confident in what you’re wearing.”

    With more women coming into areas such as construction do you think there will be more consumer power on choice and influencing the design of safety footwear?

    (DJ): “Yes, for sure. Especially when more users realise that there is a choice. Safety footwear doesn’t have to be uncomfortable! I think so many of us have just accepted this as ‘a thing’ over the years, I know I did. When you compare with other footwear such as trainers, we spend a lot of time and money making sure that they fit and are comfortable, yet we wear these for much shorter periods of time than we do our safety footwear. I think it’s time to push back and demand comfort.”

    What are the greatest improvements that PPE and workwear providers can make in footwear from a user point of view?

    safety boots(DJ): “A more gender sensitive fit would be a huge leap forward. A lot of safety footwear that is marketed as ‘women’s’ is still manufactured and sized for men’s feet, but women and men have different shaped feet, so women are heavily disadvantaged in terms of fit (and therefore comfort). And importantly, this applies across all PPE… for example, high-vis vests and jackets, as a woman on site, you just get given the nearest man’s size that is available which ironically, can have safety impacts in itself.

    “In addition, a greater range across all PPE for women would really support the drive to get more females working in industrial environments. There is currently no data on how many young women and girls give up on careers in these areas due to a lack of sense of belonging, but a poor choice or ill-fitting PPE can only endorse these feelings.”

    What sort of factors are you seeing as important to users in your study?

    (DJ): “I conducted the largest ever survey of safety footwear users earlier this year. Comfort and fit were really important across all respondents. When asked what they would change or improve, women looked for a broader range, better fit and improved aesthetics, whereas men were more likely to look for improved durability, comfort and fit. Women generally wore their safety footwear less (presumably because of the lack of comfort and fit) and as such didn’t report the same durability problems as men.”

    Do you have any advice for safety professionals in assessing footwear ranges?

    (DJ): “I would definitely make sure that you ask retailers if their women’s footwear is sized for women specifically. I see a lot of ‘unisex’ footwear! Also, ensuring there is a long-term approval process in place – i.e. they can send them back if they are still uncomfortable after maybe a few weeks of wear as anecdotally, safety footwear can take a few weeks to ‘wear in’. I would also advise ensuring that users are aware of how much of a difference a good pair of socks can make! It’s tricky because I appreciate that safety professionals are often bound by budgets and targets outside of their department, but there is a business case to be had concerning the relationship between comfort and employee wellbeing and productivity.”

    Are you looking at ill fitting or unsuitable safety footwear as a factor in workplace accidents or near misses in your study?

    Protective footwear(DJ): “Yes, this is an area I’m looking at, although it’s very challenging to assess due to lack of data. Data sources are mainly concerned with body part related injuries, so it’s possible to see foot injuries in isolation, but not whether they were due to safety footwear (or lack of). The same is true of slips, trips and falls; the data is captured but not in relation to PPE. I think more could be done in this area to give a true reflection of the cause of incidents and not just the outcomes.”

    What future developments and innovations in safety footwear do you see coming along?

    (DJ): “Safety footwear has come a long way in terms of using more technical materials but when we look across other footwear industries, it is lagging behind, but we can see where things might be heading. Custom-fit footwear is rapidly coming to market in other sectors (particularly athletic footwear) and would readily ease some of the comfort and fit problems experienced with safety footwear.

    “Industry-specific footwear is available from a few manufacturers but is likely to become more widespread too. The most exciting area will be in the incorporation of sensors on a large scale, as part of a holistic package of PPE, for example, location tracking and fall or slip event capture. A handful of manufacturers are already on this path and it feels like an obvious next step for the industry.”

    Finally I was intrigued to hear you are a lady blacksmith! I have to ask, how did that happen?

    (DJ): “I just fancied having a go! I’d always enjoyed welding and thought it would be a good next step. I contacted a local blacksmith and went along to his forge for a day. It’s a truly amazing craft – fun but very hard work at the same time. I’m not in any way skilled but I love hitting the metal and creating something that will far outlast me! Trying to get the design out of my head and into reality is the biggest challenge (aside from the hammer blisters). Those who do it for a living love to share their craft, so I would encourage anyone to get in touch with their local blacksmith and have a go!”


    Ansell, a global leader in safety solutions, did bring its market-leading personal protection solutions to the A+A Congress in the Messe Düsseldorf, Germany from 5-8 November, 2019.

    The biennial A+A Congress is the largest interna­tional trade forum for occupational safety, secu­rity, and health at work. Protection experts from Ansell will be in attendance at Stand J35 in Hall 6 to welcome visitors and to provide guidance on the best ways for companies to keep their workers safe.

    Well protected, well informed… and well worth the wait!

    Ansell will also be showcasing four innova­tive new glove products which reinforce the company’s core mission: to build a safer workplace for all. Al­though they will undoubtedly keep customers well protected to the highest standards, for once Ansell can’t keep everyone well informed of all of the details. Visitors will have to go to Stand J35 to discover the reasons for Ansell’s excitement for themselves.

    What the company can reveal beforehand is that there will be two new Chemical Protection Gloves to view: one that gives exceptional comfort and protection against solvents, acids and hydro-carbons; and Ansell’s very first single-use glove that offers protection against ketones. The four innovations will be completed by two new Cut Protection Gloves.

    The first is designed to be worn between two cleanroom gloves when han­dling sharp objects or cleaning apparatus, and the final glove promises a level of cut protection never seen before in a glove so light!

    A commitment to protect the world

    “The A+A Congress is the perfect opportunity for Ansell to meet our customers, showcase our products and assess the trends in our sector,” says Neil Salmon, President Industrial GBU at Ansell. “We are continuously investing in the research and development of new materials, products and services that improve worker safety and efficiency. This forum serves as a reminder of our commitment and responsibilities, and what the industry expects of us.”

    Ansell manufactures and markets high-perfor­mance hand and body protection solutions for a wide-range of industrial applications. Its products are to be found worldwide as the first line of defence against harmful chemicals and liquids, high temperatures, cuts and abrasions for workers in almost every industry where protection is a priority.

    Leading the industry and raising the standard

    Ansell is acknowledged an authority on the certifi­cation of regulated products. The Company has considerable experience in lobbying and influenc­ing new standards, typically playing a leading role in both formulating legislation and in defining the industry’s response.

    Many at A+A will recognise Ansell’s part in the adoption and sustainable compliance to PPE legislation implemented through Regulation EU 2016/425, which came into force this year. Ansell’s leadership, preparedness, and drive to find solutions that fit the industry have been de­signed to fundamentally improve the market for all affected by this vital legislation, whether they are a manufacturer, distributor or end-user.


    This statistics means that an average of 75 workers out of every 100,000 have suffered from a burn or scald at work. Between 2013 and 2018, five people were reported to have suffered fatal burn injuries, and 1,745 reported non-fatal burn injuries, according to RIDDOR.

    Employers should be aware of how to act, should they ever be faced with an employee that has a burn injury.

    Here are six steps employers can follow when dealing with an employee with burn injuries:

  • Quickly stop the burning by removing the person from the area, dousing flames with water or smothering flames with a blanket;
  • Remove any clothing or jewellery near the burnt area but nothing which is stuck to burnt skin and could cause further damage;
  • Cool the burn with cool water for 20 minutes as soon as possible. Never use ice, iced water or greasy substances, like butter;
  • Keep the person warm using blankets or clothing but never place them on the injured area. Warmth will prevent hypothermia, where a person’s body temperature drops below 35C (95F). Hypothermia is a risk when cooling a large burnt area;
  • Place a layer of cling film over the burn, rather than wrapping around a limb. A clean plastic bag can be used for hand burns;
  • Sit upright if the face is burnt. Avoid lying down as this could increase swelling.
    The most prevalent types of injury which are self-reported include strain and sprain, superficial, lacerations and open wounds, fracture and broken bones, burns and scalds, and dislocation of joints.

    According to the World Health Organization, the most common types of burn injuries in the workplace occur as a result of accidental misuse or mishandling of thermal, chemical or electrical sources or because of fire. However, the HSE states that many serious burn accidents at work could have been avoided if precautions were taken. Employers can be fined heavily if these injuries result from unsafe work practices, including employees not having the correct protective clothing or equipment.

    Gary Ellis, Health and Safety Trainer at CE Safety, says: “The British Burns Association, confirmed that while the most common place of injury is the home for children and the elderly, for adults, it is the workplace. The data we analysed show that the number of self-reported burn injuries is worryingly high.”

    “If you or someone else has been burnt, make sure that you immediately visit A&E if the burns are bigger than the victim’s hand, if the burns cause white or charred skin, you or the victim are burnt on the face, hands, arms, feet, legs or genitals that cause blisters, or the burns are chemical or electrical.

    “All burns and any other injuries in the workplace need to be taken seriously. Ensure you are aware of where your first aid kit is or who is the person, in your team, who has undergone first aid training to ask them any questions you might have.”



  • A fall from height is the most serious hazard associated with roof work. Preventing falls from roofs is a priority and it is expected from principals, employers, and contractors with staff working on roofs to actively manage any potential for falls.

    Investigations into falls while working at height show that more than 50% of falls are from less than three metres, and most of these falls are from ladders and roofs.

    More injuries happen on residential building sites than any other workplace in the construction sector, and of falls experienced by roofers:

  • 20% were over three metres in height
  • 40% were from permanent structures such as roofs These guidelines give all who are involved with working on roofs a clear direction on how to manage the work in a way that will bring down the death and injury toll.

    The Best Practice Guidelines for Working on Roofs provides practical guidance to employers, contractors, employees, designers, principals, persons who control a place of work, and architects who are engaged in work associated with roofing.

    Workers who need to access roofs and to whom these guidelines will apply include:

  • Roofers
  • Builders
  • Plumbers
  • Heating and ventilation installers
  • Air conditioning installers
  • Painters
  • Installers of telecommunications equipment
  • Demolition contractors
  • Home or property owners or inspectors
  • Chimney sweeps, etc.


    What are the legal aspects and requirements for working on roofing?

    Various legal references contained in the OHS act with specific reference to:

  • Section 8 (Duties of Employers)
  • Regulations 9 (Risk Assessments)
  • Regulations 10 (Fall protection plans)
  • General Safety and Administrative regulations

    As for all companies the Occupational Health and Safety Act takes relevance when working on roofs. As per Section 8 of the OHS Act:

    1) Every employer shall provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health and safety of his employees.
    2) Without derogating from the generality of an employer’s duties under subsection (1), the matters to which those duties refer include in particular
    a) Provision and maintenance of systems of work, plant and machinery that, as far as is reasonably practicable, are safe and without risks to health
    b) Taking such steps as may be reasonably practicable to eliminate or mitigate any hazard or potential hazard to the safety of employees, before resorting to personal protective equipment
    c) Making arrangements for ensuring, as far as is reasonably practicable, the safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the production, processing, use, handling, storage or transport of articles or substances
    d) Establishing, as far as is reasonably practicable, what hazards to the health and safety or persons are attached to any work which is performed, any article or substance which is produced, processed, used, handled, stored or transported and any plant or machinery which is used in his business, and he shall as far as is reasonably practicable, further establish what precautionary measures should be taken
    e) With respect to such work, article, substance, plant and machinery in order to protect the health and safety of persons, and he shall provide the necessary means to apply such precautionary measures
    f) Providing such information, instructions, training and supervision as may be necessary to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees
    g) As far as is reasonably practicable, not permitting any employee to do any work or to produce, process, use, handle, store or transport any article or substance or to operate any plant or machinery, unless the precautionary measures contemplated in paragraphs (b) and (d), or any other precautionary measures which may be prescribed, have been taken
    h) Taking all necessary measures to ensure that the requirements of this Act are complied with by every person in his employment or on premises under his control where plant or machinery is used
    i) Enforcing such measures as may be necessary in the interest of health and safety;
    j) Ensuring that work is performed and that plant or machinery is used under the general supervision of a person trained to understand the hazards associated with it and who have the authority to ensure that precautionary measures taken by the employer are implemented
    k) Causing all employees to be informed regarding the scope of their authority as contemplated in section 37(1)(b)


    What are the common challenges the developer’s team faces when installing a roof and when working at heights such as scaffolding and rope access, i.e. painting or cladding or specialist operations like waterproofing? Some new buildings can be three or four storeys tall, and redevelopments in the inner cities can be as tall as 10 storeys.

    Any building has a few generic challenges that the developers and construction personnel face when either constructing, renovating or refurbishing a building with rooftops including the availability and suitability of structural or certified anchor points. Structural anchor points in a roofing environment are normally wooden trusses and they are not of sufficient strength to withstand a shock load of 15kn in case of a fall. This includes during all phases of construction.

    Sheeting is normally a huge challenge as well, as it does not allow for lifelines (either permanent or temporary) to be installed due to various reasons, including:

  • Constant movement during installation (as sheeting is being placed on the wooden trusses). This is also applicable to steel trusses as you install sheeting over the anchor point
  • Anchor points at feet level increasing the fall distance
  • Competency of personnel on site to competently assess the rooftops and place appropriate systems in place on site
  • Time that is available for the installation of systems for safety is just not available and thus the ‘shortest route’ possible is used and that does not include certified or competently installed systems



  • NYC Law requires safety training reminders at large construction sites

    New York — Large, complex construction sites in New York City must immediately post at their exits multilingual notices about upcoming safety training requirements, Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca announced Oct. 15.

    Beginning Dec. 1, all workers at these construction sites must have at least 30 hours of site-safety training, while supervisors must have at least 62 hours. A 40-hour training requirement for workers at these sites will go into effect Sept. 1, 2020. The regulations came about with the approval of Local Law 196 by the city council and Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) in 2017.

    The notices must include every language that is used by workers to communicate at each construction site, an Oct. 15 press release from the department states.

    “Having signs at the exits of construction sites is fitting,” La Rocca said in the release. “At the end of the day, workers will be reminded to get the training they need to come home safely to their families. Keeping workers and the public safe is our agency’s highest priority.”

    The department’s website provides additional signage requirements, downloadable notice templates in 14 languages and an interactive map to determine whether workers on a particular construction site are required to undergo the safety training.

    The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health and the Building Trades Employers’ Association, as well as other worker advocacy groups and unions, applaud the department and its new regulation in the release.

    “This training is going to be an invaluable tool moving forward toward making construction work as safe as it can be,” BTEA President and CEO Louis J. Coletti said.


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