Harsco Infrastructure (SGB), one of the UK’s leading suppliers of hired, sold and contracted scaffolding and access equipment, has launched a collective fall prevention system for use with its CUPLOK® system scaffold.

PREGUARD™ comprises lightweight posts with telescopic guardrails – the advanced guardrail is installed during the erection process ensuring there are double guardrails already in place when the scaffolder mounts the working platform.

PREGUARD™ is quick and easy to use. The user snaps vertical aluminium posts onto the existing scaffold uprights, attaches twin horizontal rails and then detaches the post, lifts it into an elevated position and secures it again with the snap-fastening.

As the vertical post is raised, the telescopic horizontal rail rotates about the swivel joint linking it to the post and at the same time extends diagonally to allow sufficient movement for the system to climb. As the scaffold is dismantled the erection sequence is simply reversed.

Harsco Infrastructure’s investment in the PREGUARD™ advanced guardrail is the culmination of an intensive research project undertaken over the past year to determine the best product to use with CUPLOK® system scaffold. It also complements Harsco Infrastructure’s wide range of site safety products. Publication in 2008 of the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation’s (NASC) Interim Guidance on Collective Fall Prevention Systems in Scaffolding (SG4:05 Appendix A) has added urgency to the need to invest in an effective fall prevention scheme.

“The publication of the NASC Interim Guidance has confirmed our own thinking – that the time has arrived for fall prevention systems to be more widely used, as it has begun to be more widely demanded by customers and there is pressure to change from the HSE” comments Tony Knight, Harsco Infrastructure Business Development Director.

The NASC document spells out the now well-established “hierarchy of controls” defined in the Work at Height Regulations should be applied to reduce the risks posed by working at height. Those in control of work must follow a systematic process of measures and when one level of control is not reasonably practicable they can move onto the next level.

The first level is to avoid work at height where possible; if that is not practicable, then measures must be taken to prevent falls. If this risk cannot be eliminated, then measures (such as harnesses or crash decks) must be employed to mitigate the distances and consequences of a fall.

Since scaffolding by definition rules out the first level, it is therefore necessary to look to the next level in the hierarchy: the use of equipment designed to prevent falls – known as ‘collective fall protection’. This is where the PREGUARD™ advanced guardrail comes into play, significantly reducing the risk of the user falling from the incomplete scaffold structure.

“We understand the importance of recognising developments in safety policies, and the growing interest in Collective Fall Prevention Systems is a far-reaching change that will impact on any business deeply concerned with Work at Height”, concludes Mr Knight.