Mast climbers are more than just a means of cutting down project costs and days spent on site, they’re also a safer means of vertical access.
Explore this guide to understand why mast climbers consistently outshine scaffolding in ensuring safety for your construction projects.
Chapters of this guide include:
- Are Mast Climbers Safer Than Scaffolding?
- What Are The Safety Features of A Mast Climber?
- 4 Things to Look For in a Mast Climber Provider
- Requirements of a Good Mast Climber Safety Check
- How Mast Climbers Can Help Prevent Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD)
- Can You Trust Mast Climbers?
- Safety Features Of BFT Mast Climbers
Looking for more information? Click on each header to check out the expanded posts, where we look at each of these areas one by one in more detail, offering practical advice and expert insights on safe and efficient vertical access at construction sites.
Are Mast Climbers Safer Than Scaffolding?
Vertical access is generally safe and secure when adhering to industry and HSE guidelines in the UK. For optimal safety, mast climbers are increasingly favoured in construction projects due to their inherent safety features.
Despite both scaffolding and mast climbers being deemed safe, statistics indicate that the UK has a commendable safety record in the workplace. The HSE reported 39 construction worker fatalities in 2020/21, with 35 attributed to falls from height and 17 to strikes from moving objects – common occurrences in the vertical access sector.
NASC's 2021 report recorded the second-lowest number of accidents and injuries, although it didn't specify the type of access involved. Insights from mast climber professionals, like Neil Allen, reveal minimal incidents, mostly near misses or minor injuries, contrasting with more severe cases associated with scaffolding.
The discussion extends to fire risk mitigation in construction projects. As building regulations evolve, efforts to minimise fire risks involve eliminating combustible cladding and using Class-A-rated materials. Mast climbers, with non-combustible modular units, contribute to reducing fire hazards during vertical access.
Considering the health and safety advantages, mast climbers stand out. The ergonomic design minimises musculoskeletal injuries prevalent in tasks performed on scaffolding. Mast climbers enable tasks at optimal heights, eliminating the need for awkward postures or precarious ladder use. This, coupled with fire safety benefits and both anecdotal and statistical evidence, underscores mast climbers as a secure choice for construction projects.
What Are The Safety Features of A Mast Climber?
When considering mast climbers for vertical access, always keep safety in mind. Recent HSE alerts have heightened awareness of mast climbers in the UK construction industry, prompting a closer look at their safety features.
A key safety aspect of mast climbers is their single platform, distinguishing them from scaffolding. This platform moves vertically along the building's façade, providing access to different levels without the need for multiple structures. This not only saves time and costs but also enhances safety by ensuring workers consistently operate at the optimal height, reducing the risk of musculoskeletal injuries and expediting project completion.
The control system, functioning as the 'brain' of the mast climber, contributes significantly to safety. Powered by on-site electricity or a generator, it oversees crucial aspects such as precise platform stops, gate security, emergency stop functionality, and a "hold to run" system for controlled ascent and descent. The system also corrects any imbalance during travel, ensuring a steady and safe trajectory.
Regular servicing is a cornerstone of mast climber safety. On-site managers conduct routine checks, and upon returning to BFT's facilities, machines undergo thorough 45-point inspections, akin to an MOT for a car. This comprehensive process evaluates every component, from drive units and brake thickness to ancillary equipment like handrails and clips. The meticulous documentation of this process provides a complete audit trail, assuring the safety of both equipment and personnel.
Acknowledging the significance of HSE alerts, this blog aims not only to inform about regulatory changes but also to elucidate the safety features found in mast climbers. BFT Mastclimbing emphasises the utmost importance of mast climber safety, ensuring each machine is manufactured and maintained to the highest safety standards. For those seeking expert advice, project-specific solutions, or information on required IPAF training levels, reaching out to BFT Mastclimbing's experts is encouraged. The commitment to safety in every aspect underscores mast climbers as a secure and reliable choice for vertical access in construction projects.
4 Things to Look For in a Mast Climber Provider
Choosing the right mast climber provider is crucial for a safe and efficient vertical access solution. Here are four key factors to consider when choosing a mast climber provider:
1. Safety Checks
Ensure that your mast climber provider conducts thorough safety inspections before delivery and upon return. Ask about their inspection processes and maintenance procedures. A reliable provider, like BFT, emphasises comprehensive safety checks, documenting every aspect of a machine's condition throughout its lifecycle.
2. Objective Advice
Look for a provider that offers clear, objective advice about the benefits and limitations of mast climbers. They should provide honest insights into when mast climbers are the most cost-effective and efficient solution. A consultative approach that considers your project's unique requirements and various trade needs is essential for making informed decisions.
Mast climber safety is paramount, and certification from reputable organisations is crucial. Ensure that the provider is certified by the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) and adheres to safety standards, including CE certification and compliance with BS EN1495 standards. The provider should offer IPAF-certified training services to operators to guarantee safe equipment operation.
Choose a mast climber provider committed to training operators beyond the minimum requirements. This commitment demonstrates investment in the industry and a higher level of competency. Providers like BFT, with dedicated training centres, showcase their commitment to safety knowledge transfer. BFT's £500,000 training facility ensures that staff receives state-of-the-art training, contributing to the safest mast climbing services in the UK and beyond.
A thorough evaluation of these four factors—safety checks, objective advice, certifications, and training—will guide you in selecting a mast climber provider that prioritises safety, efficiency, and industry expertise.
Requirements of a Good Mast Climber Safety Check
Ensuring mast climber safety requires a comprehensive approach, considering various inspections and operator proficiency. A thorough handover examination is crucial, involving a complete inspection of mast and tie components, weight testing, anchor testing, and the issuance of a LOLER test certificate. Daily inspections, mandated by local regulations, involve a checklist completed by the operator, covering ground conditions, load chart checks, tie inspections, and rack engagement verification.
Weekly inspections, conducted by a competent person with IPAF Demonstrator course completion, focus on visual and functional checks, including testing upper limit switches. The six-weekly inspection, performed by a BFT site field engineer, encompasses approximately 45 checks, ensuring proper tightening of components, inspecting for corrosion or cracks, and testing braking systems.
According to LOLER regulations, mast climbers must undergo a six-month thorough examination, including a 110% load test to confirm structural integrity. This examination results in the issuance of a LOLER test certificate. Regular checks are crucial to maintaining optimal safety, similar to servicing a car for optimal performance.
Additionally, operator proficiency is paramount. Assessing whether operators can conduct daily inspections, operate the mast climber, and handle emergency manual descent in power failure situations is essential. Confidence in operator proficiency is vital for safe mast climbing. If doubts exist, seeking further training from a reputable mast climber supplier is recommended. Partnering with a supplier offering high-level training enhances overall safety measures.
Ensuring the safety of workers at height involves not only addressing immediate risks but also considering long-term occupational health. Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD), resulting from prolonged strain on the body, affect over two-thirds of tradespeople, with high prevalence among bricklayers. Common injuries include elbow, back, neck, and lower arm/wrist issues.
Common Injuries and Causes:
Lower Arm/Wrist: 88%
Injuries are often work-related and recurring, leading to sustained impairments. Causes include working with a bent back (72%), arms above shoulder height (59%), and kneeling/stooping (59%). Unnatural positions, often dictated by inflexible access solutions, contribute to MSDs.
Mast Climbers Mitigate MSD With…
Adjustable Heights – Studies show that adjusting material heights and reducing carrying distances can improve MSD rates.
Optimal Ergonomic Positions – Mast climbers offer adjustable platforms for optimal ergonomic positioning, reducing the risk of MSDs.
Elimination of Ladders and Scaffolds – Mast climbers negate the need for ladders and scaffolds, which are known to cause and aggravate MSDs.
Scaffolding Limitations – Traditional scaffolding can lead to awkward postures and lifting, contributing to MSDs.
Mast Climber Flexibility – Mast climbers can be adjusted to suit individual needs without obstructing the work surface.
Industry Shift – Despite the benefits, the construction industry's traditional mindset hinders the widespread adoption of mast climbers.
Short-term safety concerns must align with long-term health considerations. While avoiding falls and accidents is crucial, contractors must also address the prevalence of MSDs in construction. The less obvious nature of these disorders often leads to underreporting. Mast climbers offer a solution by providing flexibility, adjustable heights, and eliminating the need for ladders and scaffolds.
Can You Trust Mast Climbers?
Construction professionals sometimes harbour reservations about mast climbers, often rooted in misconceptions. Some perceive them as glorified scissor lifts or window cleaner cradles. However, mast climbers, securely attached to buildings, boast superior safety. Data from The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) highlights mast climbers as among the safest powered access options.
Following a tragic accident in May 2021, resulting in two fatalities, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued a safety alert, prompting heightened attention to mast climber safety. This article delves into the safety alert, evaluates mast climber safety through data analysis, and outlines necessary measures for secure mast climber use.
The HSE review identified mechanical failures in drive units leading to uncontrolled falls as the accident's cause. The suggested actions include ensuring mechanisms for detecting mechanical integrity loss, fitting individual drive units with automatic braking devices, preventing drive unit damage, avoiding physical overloading, and conducting thorough examinations, inspections, and tests.
Notably, mast climber safety hinges on proper usage and maintenance, which must be inspected by trained professionals. While there are now requirements for mechanical safety measures, the thoroughness of supplier safety checks varies. Suppliers must conduct robust risk assessments, inspections, routine maintenance, and thorough examinations to ensure equipment safety.
Ensuring Mast Climber Safety with BFT Mastclimbing: Safety Features
Mast Climbing Working Platforms (MCWPs) are acknowledged as safe access solutions, but choosing a reliable provider is paramount to guarantee the highest safety standards. Trustworthy providers, like BFT, prioritise regular maintenance, inspections, and adherence to safety regulations.
Safety as BFT's Top Priority
BFT boasts over 1,650 certified mast climbers, emphasising safety since its inception. All BFT mast climbers are CE and EN1495 certified, manufactured in Europe by reputable suppliers, exceeding BS EN 1495 requirements and industry standards.
EU Standard Compliance – BFT sources equipment from reputable European suppliers, ensuring CE and EN1495 compliance for the lowest user risk.
Centrifugal Braking System – BFT MCWPs feature 4 braking systems, including 2 electromagnetic and 2 centrifugal brakes, preventing overspeed descent automatically.
Malfunction Detection – Electronic devices in BFT MCWPs monitor motor current, instantly halting operations and sounding an alarm if a malfunction is detected within 50cm of travel.
Robust Risk Assessments – BFT conducts thorough assessments, servicing, and inspections independently by trained professionals, ensuring safety and reliability.
Choose a Safe and Reliable MCWPs Provider
While MCWPs are generally secure, not all providers maintain the same safety standards. Opt for a provider meeting the highest safety benchmarks for optimal mast climber safety. BFT's commitment to safety makes its MCWPs the safest and most reliable choice, demonstrated through state-of-the-art facilities and impeccable safety records, fostering customer trust. Visit BFT's workshop to witness safety measures firsthand and ensure secure project support.
Want to make your project safer? Speak to our team who will be able to create a bespoke mast climber vertical solution for your next construction project.