Designing safer ladders
Working at heights is one of the most commonly faced risks in sign installation, yet is not confined to abseiling on multi-storeyed buildings. Indeed, the humble ladder can be an instrument of death if designed poorly and/or positioned badly, especially if that ladder extends thirty-feet from the ground to the top of a billboard.
At eight meters above the ground, even the least height-affected Installer will need one hand to hold on to the ladder to maintain the minimum three points of contact while working at heights. In such situations the Installer effectively has one hand tied in the act of performing a task requiring the skilled use of two hands.
But now, with the Installer tethered to a ladder slotted into Jamco-designed enclosed ladder-stops, three points of contact are maintained, installation speed is significantly increased and falling backwards off the ladder is virtually impossible.
Designed to the highest standards
Jamco worked diligently with an approved engineering consultancy to ensure the sturdiness of Jamco-designed enclosed ladder-stops. In engineering the stops, the consultant established the moment-capacity of a key rod in the design; ensured the capacity of tek screws by computing vertical load, factor of safety and sheer force on the screws; and ensured use of steel with the correct tensile strength.
The stops were also designed to sit out and off the billboard, thereby creating more space and allowing the Installer more room to lift up border-kits for easier and safer installation of clients’ signage.
Prior to installation of enclosed ladder-stops on various billboards, ladders had been prone to swaying back and slipping laterally. Now, with a fixed tie-off point, the ladder cannot go backwards, forwards or sideways. The need for travel-towers has been largely eliminated, saving time and money. And safety is significantly enhanced by the Installer being in constant fall-arrest for the duration of the installation.
Safety is king
Clear evidence that safety is king at Jamco has been Jamco’s proactive re-engineering of Static sites to incorporate secondary safety systems.
Recently, for example, Jamco proposed to its major client a significant upgrade of OH&S safety systems on seven Spectacular sites adjacent to hazardous work zones (aSpectacular is a 18.99 x 4.5 metre banner).
Prior to this upgrade, Spectacular sites were fitted with 4.5 metre-long, metal side-poles, which would be removed upon installation to enable the banner to be pulled taut around the back of the panel. Crucially, at this point in the installation sequence, such removable side-poles would thereby become dangerously loose, heavy, electrically conductive items.
In the face of this, Jamco proposed a simple yet ingenious and effective re-engineering of such sites by permanently fixing the metal side-poles on swivelling bases, thereby enhancing safety yet still enabling taut installation of this largest banner size.
Eliminating the risks of electrocution
With several of these sites perilously close to overhead electrical cables, Jamco’s design – now implemented on these sites – has virtually eliminated the risk of Installer electrocution.
And since some Spectacular sites are atop multi-storey buildings, these upgrades have also drastically reduced the risk of injury or death to pedestrians and road users as a result of loose items falling from height.
The simple beauty of this system is that it has eliminated errant decision-making, giving Installers no option to remove items rendered dangerous by the very act of their removal at height, near electrical assets.
An age old problem
It’s an inconvenient and unpleasant reality that birds – especially feral pigeons and Indian Mynas – love roosting in elevated Spectacular and Super static sites.
The proof is in the pudding (though the photos here may suggest use of another more appropriate term!).
Indeed, the enormous and disgusting build-up of bird droppings under prime roosting spots – often in the weather-protected internal apex and other crannies within these sites – is such that in many cases Installers cannot even establish secure footholds, let alone install efficiently in a safe, healthy work environment.
More than just a nuisance
Large accumulations of bird excrement represent a bio-hazard; breathing apparatus is needed to protect against infections known to be potentially caused by inhalation of fungal spores in the droppings. This is more likely when warm, dry weather turns the droppings to dust prone to flying in the wind, but just as hazardous when rain turns the guano to virtual mud, slowing movement around the site and necessitating the use of gloves. Build-ups have been so bad at times that some Installers have been made to feel physically ill.
The parts of these sites that tend to be most affected are structural girts, access ladders, walkways, the top crossbar of mono-poles, and ratchets, which Installers must of course handle as part of the installation process.
Excrement-infested sites are not only problematic in terms of occupational health and safety, but do not allow completely delay-free sign installation, so are also bad for productivity. In fact there are times when large flocks leave build-ups to the extent that sites need gurneying simply to enable free access.
Jamco has addressed this age-old problem with ingenuity and the determination required to bird-proof sites over multiple visits, necessitated when birds inevitably find alternative roosts perhaps not initially covered-off.
Various site modifications have been completed by Jamco to discourage roosting. Coreflute has been pinned to panels, fitted immediately behind cross-girts. Access ladders have been curtained with bird-netting. Various crossbars have been fitted with spikes that simply discourage roosting.
Some sites have been so badly covered with droppings that silicone could not be used to fit spikes; in such situations spikes have had to be cable-tied. And non-essential crossbars have been removed.
Persistence in deploying these modification methods has paid handsome dividends in terms of not only reduced health and safety risk, but efficiency by way of the maintenance of clean, freely accessible sites.