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The case for steel Greater certainty of safe site practice is achieved because steelwork is standardised in a way that lends itself to repetition of site tasks. Steelwork contractors are specialists with highly trained and experienced skills in design, fabrication and erection. The site erection teams are highly specialised and skilled, and hold recognised qualifications (see box on opposite page). Erection programmes for steel frames are short, involving relatively few on-site personnel and so less exposure to potential hazards. A typical steel erection team would comprise four or five trained, High level steelwork can be assembled at ground level competent erectors - as opposed to as many as 20 and then lifted into place, minimising work at height. for an equivalent in-situ concrete frame. Steel frames can be self stable so the full strength of the material can be immediately available. There is no delay while the steel gains strength and no risk of placing reliance on an under-strength component. Already erected parts of the structure provide safe access to working positions, for use by other trades if required. Decking for composite slabs provides a safe platform after installation as well as protection to lower storeys, and access stairs can be immediately supported from columns and beams as required. At the end of a steel framed building’s useful life it is easily and safely demountable, the sections being either re-used elsewhere or recycled to provide steel of the original quality. The steel construction sector provides an extensive range of free advice and Health and Safety Guidance covering design and workshop practice. BCSA publishes an extensive range of Codes of Practice for the erection of: • Low Rise Buildings • Multi-storey Buildings Health and Safety benefits of steel • Metal Decking & Stud Welding • Steel Bridges  Using steel reduces site based activity • Steelwork in Windy Conditions  Less on-site congestion due to fewer site personnel • Work at Height during Loading and Unloading  Off-site fabrication eliminates many on-site activities and so reduces potential hazards and also Health & Safety Guides covering:  Reduces exposure to bad weather conditions • On site  There is virtually no steel waste arising on site, so no hazard generating on-site stores • In the workshop are needed, and there are fewer vehicle movements involved in handling waste • In the office  Fewer delivery movements to site also reduces hazards • For Managers & Supervisors  Steel is not a hazardous material for workforces to handle For further information please visit:  There is no ‘use by’ date on steel as there is with concrete www.SteelConstruction.org Edge protection erected along with the steel frame provides a safe working environment. Safety innovations A range of safety related innovations have been pioneered by steelwork contractors and are in common use on sites. • Dedicated lifting points and lifting brackets are fabricated into steelwork • Support frames that allow mobile elevating working platforms (MEWP’s) to be used on erected steelwork • Edge protection systems can be attached to sections before erection • The use of nets to protect following trades is widespread • Composite floor decking can be cut off-site • Bridge sections are now being sub assembled to include the access systems, significantly reducing work at height risks NSC March 2008 21


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