Independent testing confirms integrity of Safety Nets NZ systems
It may come as a surprise to you that there has never been a formal, fully engineered system certified, anywhere in the world, for the use of safety nets as primary means of fall protection on residential construction projects where net areas are less than 35 sq.m. European Standard BSEN : 1263 Part 2 primarily sets out net installation parameters where the area of the net to be installed is greater than 35 sq.m.
The team at Safety Nets NZ was the pioneer for the development of the system that is widely, and successfully, used on residential construction sites throughout the country today, and the compliance parameters that we have developed in relation to the installation of safety nets on these types of projects, where net areas are commonly less than 35 sq.m., have been developed through our own rigorous in house testing. We know our system works because we have tested it extensively.
However, with the enactment of the Health and Safety at Work Act (2015) ( The Act) it became apparent to us that to comply with the requirements of the Act we needed to have our system independently analysed, engineered and ultimately certified . Therefore, in late 2016, together with Fall Pac NZ Limited, we engaged the services of the of the team at the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology at Massey University in Albany with the aim of rigorously, independently testing all elements of our system.
We had a purpose built testing rig constructed on the campus in Albany, and in the intervening period we have used the rig to drop varying loads from varying heights, into safety nets of varying sizes. The nets, brackets, border ropes etc… were fitted with load cells that recorded forces on these key elements of not just the net system, but also the falling body itself. There is a video on the home page of our website ( www.safetynetsnz.co.nz) that shows the rig set up, and an indicative test.
The team at Massey carried out a multitude of tests, under varying conditions and assessed different installation parameters i.e varying load drop heights and weights, varying bracket centres, varying net sizes, varying points where the load strikes the net, testing nets of different ages, testing repaired nets etc... with the results being collated and analysed to effectively confirm that our system works.
It is not enough to test individual components of a system in isolation. The system itself needs to be robustly tested to ensure that it works in it’s entirety.
Upon completion of the testing and analysis, a comprehensive report into the findings of the work carried out was produced by the team at Massey. The key conclusions from the report follow;
“Based on the results of the experiment and research carried out for this report, as well as research and investigation carried out by reputable academic sources, it can be established the system of safety net installation currently used by Safety Nets NZ is exemplary within the safety net industry."
"Results verify that when a fall arrest safety net system is installed in accordance with the standards and criteria developed by Safety Nets NZ Ltd, as described and rigorously tested in this report, the system will successfully arrest the fall of a person substantially minimising the risk of injury or even death that can potentially occur as a result of the fall.”
“Any safety net system provider engaged by an upstream PCBU should be able to demonstrate that the service/system offered is fit for its intended purpose and capable of performing as expected, without health and safety risk to the workforce. The testing and research carried out for this report confirms that Safety Nets NZ Limited has tested it’s system in accordance with the requirements of the Act (HSWA 2015)”
As I am sure you are aware, all PCBU’s have an obligation to ensure the health and safety of themselves and others. The Act requires all PCBU’s to ensure that any system that they are using is without health and safety risk so far as is reasonably practicable. There is a “duty to test” placed on all PCBU’s to ensure and verify that they are certain that the systems, materials, etc… that they use are fit for purpose, and capable of performing as expected without risk to health and safety of the workforce.
Duty to Test – Is your current supplier compliant?
As the engineers at Massey conclude...
“The testing and research carried out... confirms that... Safety Nets NZ Limited has tested it’s systems in accordance with the requirements of the Act”
So as one of our key clients you can rest assured that as PCBU you have discharged your duties in regards to ensuring that the soft fall protection systems we provide , and that you engage, have been tested and confirmed to perform at the required standard. Therefore (in that respect) you are using a system that is without risk to the health and safety of your workforce, provided of course that the safety nets are used strictly according to the relevant guidelines and instructions.
Once again Safety Nets NZ leads the way in the ongoing development and continual improvement of the use of safety net systems on construction sites throughout the country, so if you need any help with your upcoming project, just contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or (021) 782 583 at any time to see how we can help you make use of what is currently the only fully engineered and independently certified safety net fall arrest system for residential construction sites in the country.
Cheers for now