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June 3, 2011

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The Trussed Rafter Association (TRA) is currently working with the HSE to iron out common safety issues and dilemmas in the industry, with the aim of promoting a greater understanding of risks relating to trusses on site, and of resolving the division of responsibility between truss fabricators and contractors as an industry-wide accepted principle.

The TRA says its Health and Safety Committee has spent time looking at its own industry’s working methods and production machinery. Falling from height is an obvious danger in the industry, but musculoskeletal injury as a result of repetitive manual handling of completed heavy trusses was also identified as a particular cause for concern.

Working with the HSE, the Association has established weight and manpower guidelines for manual handling trusses up to 95kg in weight and introduced an embargo on manual handling above this weight. This has led to the installation of cranes and automatic truss stackers at many TRA members’ factories.

Dust has also long been a problem in woodworking environments such as the trussed-rafter industry, so the TRA is also working with the HSE and manufacturers to identify practical changes to equipment that will reduce airborne wood dust still further.

Another current issue is the use of the Construction Safety Certification Scheme (CSCS) for all truss delivery drivers to ensure they have the safety knowledge required to safely attend and work on a construction site. Increasingly, site managers are asking for sight of the card, which determines proof of competence for construction sites from drivers.

Commenting on the TRA’s efforts to improve safety in the industry, Paul Colley, HSE manager for Pasquill Roof Trusses (pictured), said: “The TRA is not a regulatory organisation and has no power to compel truss plants to adopt safe machinery, working methods and truss-handling equipment. But the HSE has stated that the methods used and supported by the TRA will be defined as best practice and used by it when investigating incidents throughout the industry”.

On the issue of responsibility, Paul added that where the contractor erects the trusses himself, or uses a sub-contractor, responsibility for all aspects of safety for the on-site task remains that of the contractor’s. But this does not mean that truss manufacturers should ignore site safety, he emphasised: “Most manufacturers have a good deal of experience that can be passed on to the contractor, if requested, and we should not just concentrate on the safe loading, delivery and unloading of the trusses on site. The truss fabricator has insufficient authority on site to carry liability beyond this.”

He continued: “Because the unloading of trusses from the fabricator’s lorry occurs on the contractors site it is generally felt that the unloading process remains the responsibility of the contractor. However, the delivering company has a duty to ensure his load is removed safely.”

The health and safety datasheets that have been endorsed by the HSE are available from the Trussed Rafter Association – visit www.tra.org.uk

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