SCOTTISH Water is pushing the bar in ‘work at height’ safety with the development of a new fall protection system to safeguard staff and contractors working over wet well chambers.
The company has devised a four-part (Quadrant) fall protection grid for access covers to wet wells in collaboration with secure access specialist, Technocover. The hinged grids each work independently to allow easier removal and replacement of pumps and other maintenance tasks while restricting the area of open chamber to prevent a worker falling through.
Concept units engineered, manufactured and installed by Technocover have been successfully trialled over several months at a number of Scottish Water sites. Trials have proved the system’s compatibility with upstand and flush-fitting wet well covers. The design also has potential for retrofit on existing access covers.
The innovation links well as part of Scottish Water’s wider lifting strategy arrangements for submersible pumping stations. Four-part fall protection is set to be adopted as a new standard for internal safety cover design on all access covers installed on new build Scottish Water submersible pumping chambers. The design arrangement has also been introduced as part of Scottish Water’s standard product specification for Wastewater Pumping Stations.
Malcolm Tierney, Safety & Performance Team Manager at Scottish Water, said, “People often fail to appreciate the significant fall from height risk which exists in relation to working over open underground chambers and tanks. Generally this is because they are standing on firm and level ground and do not perceive the fall risk to be as great as that of working on scaffolds, roofs, ladders and other above-ground locations.”
Michael Miles, MD at Technocover, added, “As well as addressing the hazards of chamber access in the water industry, the four-part safety grid can also enhance maintenance efficiency and reduce operational costs. Trialling of the grid shows that it offers potential to replace more complex set-ups for pump lifting, typically involving protective guardrails and large davits, with a simpler arrangement using a portable frame and hoist.”