Containment, on building sites, needs to improve

It is amazing, but a 19mm gap under the toe board of an installed temporary edge protection system on site, meets the requirements of the relevant Standard (EN 13374). Many, myself included, do not consider that acceptable. A gap that large could easily let a significant piece of steel (a packing shim for instance, or 16mm rebar) pass through and fall off the edge of the slab.

There appears to be little stomach for a change in the Standard, and on most sites a subjective demand to “close the gap” results in foam, pipe lagging, and rips of ply being fitted along the bottom of the toe board.

Why do we accept this ? There is no real reason not to “tighten” up the requirement. To set a Standard that can be followed, but that offers more acceptable results and outcomes. If we are not able or willing to change the EN Standard, we could simply refer to the Containment Standard recently published by the Edge Protection Federation. Using this, you can specify whatever containment requirements your project needs, across three height bands within each floor.

Containment Standard

You might, for example, require 5mm at the toe board and for the first 1m height (Ca1), you might specify 60mm for the area between 1m and 2m (Ca2), and you might consider 250mm above that (Ca3). The Standard uses the term “containment porosity” to describe the size of sphere contained.

“Yes,” there will be an increased wind load, and “yes” you will require some additional technical support, but at least you will be able to set a specification and demand that the contractor meets it ….