Is My Safety Net System Compliant?
What To Look For To Confirm Your Net System is Compliant
The use of safety nets as the preferred means of providing fall through protection on construction sites has become increasingly apparent over recent years, and as a greater number of builders, roofers, property managers etc. realise the benefit of using nets as their primary means of fall protection, we are finding that there is an ongoing need to educate and reinforce the key components of ensuring that the net systems that they are using are compliant.
Our clients often ask how they can check that the safety net system has been installed and is fit for purpose so I thought it an opportune time to outline key things to look for when inspecting your fall protection system.
How often should safety nets be tested and how is this confirmed?
All safety nets used for fall arrest must be subjected to an annual test of the energy absorption capacity of the net. When new, a safety net will normally be supplied with three test meshes loosely attached to the safety net. At no more than 12 month periods a test mesh will be taken off and tested. Where the test mesh exceeds the minimum energy absorption capacity stated by the manufacturer, then the nets may remain in service for a further period not exceeding 12 months. Where the energy absorption capacity falls below the level stated by the manufacturer, then the net must be removed from service and destroyed.
The test house will produce written evidence of the results of the test, which must be kept by the netting contractor until the following years test results are available. It is, however, good practice to keep all safety net test mesh results throughout the life of each net.
How can a Client confirm the net has been tested?
To check whether the annual absorption capacity test has been carried out you can do the following:
- Ask the netting contractor to supply the written history of a safety net.
- Look at the date of manufacture of the net, then record how many test meshes remain on the net.
For example a net manufactured in January 2016 should have two test meshes remaining by February 2017, one test mesh by February 2018 and so on. Whilst this will not confirm that the net has passed its annual energy absorption test it is a simple indicator that the netting contractor has a system in place for ensuring the test samples are removed for test.
When should a safety net system be inspected?
Fall arrest safety nets should be inspected by a competent person during the rigging process, and at handover stage to a contractor who is to work above the nets.
- The user should carry out a visual inspection before commencing work above a rigged safety net system i.e at the start of every day, after lunch break etc.
- Fall arrest safety nets should have a further inspection by a competent person every 7 days after handover if they continue to be worked over.
- Or following a period of adverse weather.
Who should rig safety nets?
Nets should only be installed by a suitably trained and qualified person. Client’s should ask to see proof of competency by way of appropriate and suitable certification prior to commencement of net installation works.
What is maximum spacing between net attachments?
Generally on commercial projects spacing of attachments should be no greater than 2.5m.
However on residential projects, or in situations where the clearance below the net is limited to approximately 2m, the net should be secured at a maximum of 1.7m centres. Our extensive testing carried out at Massey University has confirmed that by reducing fixing centres in this manner we can ensure the performance of the net system.
As part of our handover procedure on every project we provide a Checklist that outlines in detail what clients should look for following handover of the net system, together with a list of "do's and don'ts" that our clients can refer to. A copy of this checklist can be viewed by referring to this pdf.
I hope that this blog answers some questions that you might have, but should you have any further questions not covered off here or elsewhere on the website please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time. Craig