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Welcome to the Precast Flooring Federation

Manual Handling During the Safe Erection of Precast Concrete Flooring

This guidance by the Precast Flooring Federation is intended to be of assistance to designers and specifiers, those who manage work on site and those who actually handle flooring products on site. Correct handling of concrete floor beams and infill blocks will minimise the risk of injuries, including those where damage is gradual and progressive. Work should be properly organised, planned and executed, bearing in mind the size and weight of products involved. Wherever appropriate, the use of handling aids and mechanical handling should form part of the planned method of work.

Risk Assessment

Risk assessments on typical contracts including ground and first floor applications have revealed that the main risks are:-

  • heavy loads and poor posture leading to excessive stress and strain causing injury to muscles and tendons, particularly as the handling involves bending, twisting, stooping or other difficult postures;
  • slips, trips and falls, particularly when carrying loads;
  • sharp edges, causing cuts and abrasions to the skin;

The risk of injury is largely determined by the weight of individual items, the frequency of handling and the location. With floor beam and infill concrete block handling the risk of injury is largely determined by the weight of individual items - the longer the floor beam the heavier its weight, and the heavier the concrete block, the higher the risk of injury. Where, because of site conditions, floor beams cannot be positioned by crane or other mechanical handling equipment, manual handling and carrying risks are greatly increased. In such cases the route between the delivery position of the beams and the erection location should be carefully planned and prepared to minimise the risks created by obstacles or tripping hazards. The final positioning of floor beams in ground floor situations usually permits the erector to stand below the level of the floor beam and although the movement required is not excessive, considerable stooping may be required to grasp the load and the risk of injury consequently high. The final positioning of floor beams on upper floors typically requires the erector to stand on the same level as that on which the floor beam is resting. In this situation the erector is required to grasp the load at or below foot level and the risk of injury is high. When "blocking-out", cubes of blocks are placed onto pre positioned floor beams. The blocks are then carried from the cube and laid into the floor beam recess below foot level.

Precautions

Designers and specifiers should where possible minimise the length of floor beams to keep weight as low as reasonably practicable. Typically, 150 mm floor beams weight 32 kg/metre. Infill blocks should be of the lightest type available consistent with the specification required for the properties of the finished floor. Project planners and contractors should ensure that the items listed below are taken into account when drawing up safe systems of work. Contractors should also give instruction and training and should exercise supervision, to ensure that workers follow these plans and systems of work.

The Task
Handle and erect floor beams and infill blocks in accordance with the following:

  • Plan to off load floor beams from the delivery lorry directly onto the walls on which they will be finally positioned using a crane or other suitable mechanical handling equipment.
  • Wherever reasonably practicable provide craneage of sufficient capacity to cover the whole of the floor area being laid.
  • Where positioning of beams and blocks cannot be achieved using a crane or other mechanical handling device, trolleys or bogies should be used to convey the items.
  • The route should be prepared and be clear of obstacles or tripping hazards.
  • Operatives should adjust their work rate to permit short breaks to be taken at regular intervals and should rotate their duties.
  • Ensure sufficient time is allowed for the completion of the work allocation without the need for undue haste.
  • Cubes of infill blocks should be positioned as close as possible to the laying positions.
  • Blocks should never be thrown from one erector to another.

The Working Environment
Prepare roads and routes around the site in advance of the delivery of the blocks and beams and if they are not to be off loaded directly into their laying position, prepare suitable stacking areas. In areas where the beams and blocks are carried or handled, keep the site clear of obstacles and tripping hazards. Uneven, slippery or unstable ground conditions increase the risk of injury.

Training
Erectors should be given information and training on manual handling risks, their prevention and the systems of work to be used on that site to ensure safe manual handling of beams and blocks. Suitable training will also be necessary for designers, specifiers and those managing contracts.

Individual Capability
Particular consideration should be given to employees who are known to have a history of back trouble, hernia or other health problems which could affect their manual handling capability.

Health Surveillance
Employers should conduct appropriate health surveillance in order to identify at an early stage any indication that the employee is suffering injury, thereby reducing the likelihood of further harm occurring.

Personal Protective Equipment
When handling beams and blocks the normal protective equipment needed for use on building sites should be provided by the employers and worn by individual workers; in particular safety helmets, safety footwear with protective toe caps and abrasion resistant gloves.

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