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Tensioned Access Platform Systems

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Tensioned Access Platforms

TAP – Tensioned Access Platforms is a general term now used for what was previously referred to as Work Position Netting, Work Platform Nets, or Walk on Nets. This system has become recognised as a safe and alternative form of access over traditional solutions such as scaffolding for certain tasks and where MEWP access is unavailable.  Systems meet the strict requirements of BS 5975:2008 Code of practice for temporary works procedures, designed to CAT 3 design level.

FASET – Fall Arrest Safety Equipment Training are the trade association involved with the specification and testing of such systems and have been working closely with the HSE in writing industry guidance now available from the FASET website.

Introduction:

Over the last decade the use of tensioned access platform systems has seen a gradual growth in the UK and worldwide construction industry for providing a collective and passive working platform for light duty access.   In 2013 after the publication of the FASET Tensioned Access Platforms guidance document developed in conjunction with the HSE; specification and use of the Tensioned Access Platform Systems on main contractor UKCG sites has experienced rapid growth.

As main contractors have a duty under the CDM regulations to ensure they are competent to manage specialist subcontractors it is now possible to rely upon the guidance and professional advice from FASET and the TAP guidance committee to ensure compliance with these regulations.  More and more subcontractors in the roofing, glazing, paint application, steel erectors and many other specialist sectors are experiencing the benefits of Tensioned Access Platform Systems in finding a workable solution at the fraction of the cost of traditional methods of access such as scaffolding and platform systems.

The Tensioned Access Platform Systems are extremely lightweight, cost effective to install and dismantle and above all vastly reduce the amount of hours working at height in just providing an access system to complete the work task.

Specification:

Tensioned Access Platform Systems are available in a selection of materials.  The most cost effective are manufactured to BS EN 1263-1 as traditional roof safety nets, however these nets are a higher specification of Class B 4.4kJ and are 45mm or 60mm mesh size.  Systems have a 36kg burst strength factory fitted debris net to conceal the workplace allowing parallel works to continue below.  Each individual system is risk assessed for the end user to ensure that if the intended works may damage the system further measures such as over sheeting may be specified to control the risks.

Systems are designed for a single site use only and not transferred between projects, manufactured to exact sizes to fit the structure and engineered to provide exact loadings and deflections with general loadings available between 250kg – 1000kg per bay subject to the load bearing structure capability.  This loading capability usually allows for 2-8 operatives inclusive of tools per bay.

Bays can be dismantled and moved around the site if geometry allows the use of identical panels.  Upon completion of the works panels are recycled as reuse is not allowed once the project is complete.

The general life expectancy of the system can range from 6-24 months but is subject to the amount of UV and mechanical wear the systems receive during their intended use.  At all times the TAP systems are provided with an independent backup system for the end users to mitigate risk in a fall situation along with bespoke training and maintenance sessions for each installation.

Other systems are available on request which consist of tensioned membranes; these provide a more robust tensioned working surface for specific tasks or higher loading requirements.  Typical examples are glulam timber repairs where heavy materials or components are used.

Design Considerations:

  • Material & Component specification
  • Components and their use
  • Forces from the components impinging on the structure from the installed assembly
  • Permissible live working loads including people, tools, equipment and materials
  • Environmental loadings from wind, snow, heat and cold
  • Durability and resistance to UV, chemical attack, abrasion and hot works
  • Design loads for the components and the system
  • Lifespan of the components

Installer instructions:

  • User instructions including loading limitations
  • Identification and traceability of components as appropriate

Information provided to the client:

  • Risk assessment specific to the application
  • Components and their configurations
  • Specific tasks or situations where secondary systems have been identified by risk assessment
  • CAT 3 Design checks to BS 5975:2008 Code of practice for temporary works procedures
  • Site specific calculations with industry leading FEA software technology
  • Expected deflection levels
  • Installation drawings
  • Details of design loadings to the structure
  • Load or user capacity
  • Operation & Maintenance Manuals
  • Permit to Work system and relevant Form structure to manage the daily use of the systems

Installation:

By using a FASET member company who specialise in TAP systems you are ensured that the installation is carried out by a trained and competent workforce whilst working to site specific risk assessments and method statements with robust methods for emergency and rescue situations.

Handover:

  • All systems undergo a pre-use inspection prior to formal handover to the end user
  • The inspection consists of a thorough inspection of all components ensuring the system complies to the design drawings and project specific documents
  • This inspection is formally recorded and issued to the client
  • We ensure information in writing to the client on the safe use of the systems with the provision of a detailed Operation & Maintenance Manual
  • End user site specific training is given to the workers which covers access/egress, inspections, safe use and rescue to all users
  • Ongoing 7 day interim inspections provided by the installation company

Access to the TAP System:

Access to the system should be controlled by a TAP System induction for the worker and permit to work system which incorporates a tag system to ensure that the design loading of the system is not exceeded by too many workers.

Inspections:

  • All systems must undergo a pre-use inspection at the start of each shift which must be formally recorded within the O&M manual by the FASET TAP Inspector who can be trained within your team
  • A mandatory weekly inspection should be undertaken by a competent person and is undertaken by the installation company and trained installer

Key Benefits:

  • Textile system making it extremely lightweight and easy to install
  • Cost effective over traditional crash deck scaffold methods
  • Vastly reduced hours working at height
  • Textile system avoids damage to the structure or paintwork systems
  • Easily transportable and recyclable
  • Trade association FASET specific guidance documentation available as best working practice
  • Recognised by the HSE as an acceptable method for access where work at height cannot be avoided

High Access Solutions aim is to deliver award-winning project design and development in the work at height safety sector, we offer our clients a full turnkey solution for your project.  Please contact us for all your work at height project requirements.

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