The Association of Specialist Underpinning Contractors (Asuc) notes with interest the comments made by Philip Ball in GE's October 2002 Talking Point regarding safety measures across the entire range of rotary piling and drilling machinery.
He is critical of the lack of implementation of the PUWER Regulations 1998 for mini piling operations and by inference suggests that it is only Federation of Piling Specialist members who are proactively implementing what is necessary to comply with the law.
On the contrary, Asuc is accredited in the British Drilling Association guidance notes for the protection of persons from rotating parts and ejected or falling materials. Two member companies representing Asuc sat on the working party with a particular view towards mini piling rigs and Section 8.5 of the guidelines.
At October's Asuc/GE conference (see supplement this month), Asuc launched its own guidelines on safe and efficient underpinning and mini piling operations, which were distributed to delegates as a final draft for comment.
Asuc health and safety chairman Ifor Roberts made reference to the BDA guidelines in his presentation.
Incidentally, these guidelines have been drawn up with the assistance and advice of a former senior health and safety executive expert. Asuc rejects any suggestion that its section of the industry is not proactive. Its 18 members (some of whom are also FPS members) are doing their bit and are well aware of the procedures involved.
Philip Ball suggests that trip wires have been universally acclaimed as the answer but many members have used physical guarding constructed both in mesh and heavy polythene. The BDA guidelines allow for a hierarchy type risk assessment in Appendix A, which in the event could lead to a job being carried out in special circumstances with no guarding on the machine at all - but with a possible exclusion zone implemented in the working area except for specifically trained rig personnel.
Asuc is not suggesting that this should be the norm but it is all part of the assessment of risk and how to deal with it on site. A generic and general solution is not always appropriate in this type of work.
As an active trade association, whose membership uniquely includes representatives of the National House Building Council, BRE, Health and Safety Executive, the Institution of Structural Engineers, the Association of British Insurers and the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters, Asuc thinks its guidelines do an excellent job in promoting what is necessary on site.
Perhaps this work has not yet reached the ears of the FPS members or maybe it has fallen on deaf ears.
While Asuc members may be regarded by some as the minnows of the industry with regard to mini piling, let me assure you that its attitude and commitment to health and safety, training and many other issues, leaves others in the shade.
Vic Handley, chairman, Association of Specialist Underpinning Contractors