Congratulations to the team at INTAKS for taking out the Safety Innovation Award – Small to Medium Business at the 2015 Site Safe Health and Safety in Construction Awards.
INTAKS has been providing scaffold and edge protection services to the scaffolding and construction industries since 1997.
Safety has always been a high priority in the INTAKS business and their most recent innovation was an award winner at the 2015 Site Safe Health and Safety in Construction Awards.
We spoke to the company's General Manager, Joel Warren, about how a simple design can eliminate a key hazard completely.
Installing scaffolding and edge protection systems around roofs can be dangerous work, particularly when it comes to reaching the roof's apex. Safety harnesses are commonly used, however with newer roofs there isn't always an anchor point to attach the safety harness to. This can often leave the installers with no option but to scale the framing to build the scaffold. Then at the end of the job, they need to climb the new slippery roof to take the scaffolding down again.
This opens up a high risk situation for installers as it is easy to fall off the roof which can cause some harm.
What did they do?
INTAKS recognized this hazard was sometimes minimised, through the use of a safety harness (when possible), but there was no solution for the hazard to be completely eliminated.
INTAKS Business Owner, Lew Cleveland, visited a range of sites where scaffolding was being installed to observe the process, and speak directly to the installers on site to understand the key issues. The common feedback was that whilst installers felt happy to put on the initial handrails, they felt uneasy when installing guardrails on the gables as they were putting themselves at risk each time. If it was a frosty morning or a wet roof, often the work would be placed on hold as the risks were too great, and this would result in lost time.
INTAKS took this feedback on board, and worked with their engineers and manufacturers to come up with a leading edge innovation that would not only eliminate the hazard of falls, but also increase efficiency, saving time in installation and dismantle.
They began with a series of discussions leading to the design process, which went through a number of stages and complexities. Many designs were produced and scrapped. It was important to come up with a solution that they were completely happy with before releasing the product to market. After many discussions, designs and prototypes, the end result was an Apex Post that could also be used with traditional scaffolding. The Apex Post had five fingers which could adjust for different roof pitches. "Four of the fingers are to accommodate the edge protection and the fifth is for a raker or brace should it be required," Joel explained.
This design was simple, efficient and durable to withstand force when dropped or knocked, but most importantly, it eliminated the need for installers to scale to the apex of the roof to connect scaffolding, and undo fittings at the end when taking the scaffolding down.
The Apex Post increased safety for the installer by eliminating the risk during install and dismantle and also increased productivity on site. The design of the Apex Post meant installers could stand on a safe platform, whilst installing the edge protection on gables. This allowed the workers to feel safe, as there was no need to scale the framing to reach the apex, or walk on slippery and sometimes frosty roofs to take the scaffolding down.
The Apex Post increased efficiency. Installation was as simple as sliding the aluminum or standard scaffolding tube into the fingers on the Apex Post, and then positioning the angle in line with the roof. This not only benefited the worker on site, but also the business owner as less time was required to get the job done.
Outcomes and benefits
The Apex Post was designed so it would fit all types of scaffolding, not just the INTAKS model. This meant the entire industry can benefit from the system.
Initially when the product was first launched, there was some hesitation from the market as it was something new and different. INTAKS put a few trials out into the market and very quickly found that as soon as soon as the Apex Post was used, scaffold installers were convinced and committed to the product being used on their sites.
The Apex Post has reinforced what INTAKS stands for in the market – safe and efficient scaffolding systems.
"It sets us apart from what else is out there. We're always looking for ways to improve safe work methods while delivering labour and time efficiency with our system on site. The construction market is recognising that's what our main goal is."
For more information on our awards visit our Health and Safety Awards page.
We’re really pleased with what we’ve achieved at the Site Safe Health and Safety in Construction Awards. We were not sure the whole market would see what we were trying to accomplish with the Apex Post, so it’s really good to get that type of recognition with it.