Key H&S measures for term time canopy builds

Fordingbridge tensile canopy West Lodge school

To ensure a safe and effective build programme in a school during term time and compliance with current regulations, certain measures must be put in place.

Please note, if the school is open for extracurricular events over the holidays such as sports facilities, school clubs, etc. then the term time measures will apply.

The site must be secure and access to and from must be segregated from pupils and staff. Every endeavour will be made to minimise disruption to the school but, as with any construction project, there will be some inconveniences.

Some of the key points and control measures to ensure a safe site and to comply with the relevant Health and Safety Regulations and Approved Codes of Practice are outlined and explained, below.

1) Survey and Design

At the initial stage of enquiry, certain information will be gathered by Fordingbridge to ensure the right type of structure is chosen.
Details required include:

a) Schools choice of canopy – steel or timber structure with polycarbonate, fabric or tensile fabric roof.
b) General location of the canopy within the school and logistics of the proposed build.
c) Conditions for where the canopy will be located – are there drains, overhead cables or other services that are currently located in the area that may be affected by the groundwork and construction. Does the school have a utilities ground plan drawing showing these details?
d) Health and safety issues that could affect both the school users and the construction crews, for example is there an Asbestos Register?

2) Planning and Preparation

There are some key points that the school needs to consider:

a) The appointment of a school co-ordinator should be made as early in the project process as possible. This person will liaise with Fordingbridge on the day to day aspects of design, logistics and construction of the canopy
b) The school and the construction site must be clearly and safely separated at all times during the project.
c) It is important for the school to establish a good working relationship with the site manager during the groundwork and construction period.

3) Site security and access

To define a safe site and access to it, Fordingbridge will carry out an initial survey in association with a representative from the school to identify and agree a workable safe strategy from beginning to completion of the project.

The results could involve some or all of the following:

a) The installation of security fencing
b) Planned alternative routes for staff and pupils.
c) Pre-arranged working times.

In some cases, for instance, if a canopy is to be built in a quadrangle the area may need to be designated as “No Go” for staff and pupils with all access doors being locked shut to ensure no unauthorised access. This may, however, have an impact on the school’s fire and emergency evacuation plan so this would need to be identified, risk assessed by the school and appropriate control measures put in place at the earliest possible time.

Also, access to a site such as this would invariably be through the school building itself. Therefore selection and delivery of equipment and materials would have to be planned and scheduled to avoid school start / finish times or pupil movement at break times and between lessons.

It is important that there is discussion and liaison with the school at an early stage so that all these hazards can be identified and that control measures are planned, agreed and implemented.

4) Build Programme

Although Fordingbridge will make every effort to minimise any disruption during the build programme, there will be occasions when there will be some impact on the school.

a) Noise

Invariably noise created by our construction process is intermittent, but there may be occasions especially with groundwork processes where continual background noise will be generated by plant and equipment like breaking concrete or moving earth.

All work equipment nowadays must comply with certain noise level regulations and consequently machines such as diggers, dumpers and telehandler are much quieter than they used to be. Therefore, there is no risk of hearing damage. However there is the nuisance factor but this will be kept to a minimum.

b) Working in close proximity to occupied classrooms.

Ideally, we would prefer not to do this but there are occasions when some canopies are located adjacent to existing buildings. It would be prudent to ensure that these classrooms are empty when building the structure to ensure the safety of pupils and staff. Again, careful planning prior to the project starting could result in the school moving the class temporarily to another room while work is carried out in that area. In other words, the canopy could be built in a sequence to minimise any disruption to the school as a whole.

c) Working at height.

Some of the work on the canopies will obviously require working at height.
This is normally carried out by working from within scissor lifts or tower scaffolds.
As with any work at height it is imperative that the work is planned.

d) Asbestos

Asbestos is a material known to cause long-term and debilitating illness to anyone exposed to it and this can take many years for it to manifest itself.
It is no longer used in construction but there are many old buildings that still have this material within their structure and it is safer and more economical to leave it there undisturbed than remove and or replace. Fordingbridge canopies are almost always freestanding and no attachment is made to the existing buildings so there should not be any risk of disturbance. As a precaution it is requested that the school provides access to any Asbestos Register in order to identify the location, if any, of Asbestos.

In conclusion, any project that Fordingbridge undertakes will be carefully planned and an in depth survey of technical, logistical and health and safety issues will be undertaken. The findings will be recorded and given the school in the form of drawings for approval and a method statement for the work to be carried out. With the cooperation of the Schools Co-ordinator the project can be executed in a safe and efficient manner.

If you have any questions, please contact us on 01243 55 44 55 or email info@fordingbridge.co.uk

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