Ensure Safe Access For HVAC Maintenance
Why fix something that isn’t broken? On the face of it, it seems like an utter waste of time and money. In fact, a well-implemented maintenance programme can save time and money because an unexpected breakdown will take more time and cost more to fix.
In fact, maintenance has three roles – to avert problems, put faults right and ensure equipment is working efficiently. The best maintenance is planned because this minimises the risk of HVAC plant failure which, as well as being time-consuming and expensive, is also disruptive and can impact heavily on the health and comfort of building occupants.
So let’s agree that an effective maintenance programme makes solid business sense. This, though, raises the question of safe access to the HVAC plant. Rigorous attention to access issues will not only reduce accidents and ill health, but will promote efficient and cost-effective processes.
Maintenance provider organisations have a legal obligation to provide safe working conditions for their personnel. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) are the main set of regulations for managing the health, safety and welfare of construction projects.
The CDM Regulations apply to all building and construction work including refurbishment, repair and maintenance.
Accidents caused by poor access to HVAC equipment can have major consequences. Quite apart from the misery and despair caused to victims, their families and friends, accidents also cause irreparable reputational damage. Organisations found guilty of health and safety related offences, now have their details publicised on the HSE website so the word can spread far and wide.
And service providers working in unsafe conditions put building owners and occupiers at risk of prosecution and litigation.
So let’s also agree that access to the work area is a critical safety issue. There is a variety of equipment that can be installed to achieve this, including:
- Fixed access ladders (often called a cat ladder or vertical ladder and sometimes a hooped ladder).
- Companionway ladder (frequently referred to as a ship’s stair and, occasionally, as a stepladder).
- Access gantry (a catch-all term referring to a raised or suspended walkway with guard-railings that enable safe traverse between two or more points, usually over obstructions).
- Stepover (a means of crossing a pipe, duct or other services without having to clamber over).
- Edge-protection (including guard-railings or other physical barriers to prevent falls, typically over an unprotected roof).
- Open mesh flooring (the ubiquitous galvanised steel floor grating you see in most plant areas).
ECEX has a team of skilled metalwork fabricators operating from its workshop in Newbury who can survey and design bespoke metalwork solutions, whatever the issue.
We offer free site assessments and quotations tailored to customers’ needs. Whether they require a cat ladder or roof edge guard-railings, ECEX experts can survey, quote, manufacture, install, modify or refurbish access safety equipment as required.