Perimeter Debris Construction Netting Systems
Netting systems also exist to catch debris and, in some cases, workers. Known as a perimeter net system, this netting works to protect the public and properties below work areas that are threatened by falling debris. This netting is often designed to catch job site debris at concrete building construction sites from the pour level and during the installation and removal of tables or forms. It can catch bricks, concrete blocks, hand tools, and general construction debris.
Some systems meet ANSI and OSHA standards to provide fall protection from the working surface or the floor on which the system is mounted. A perimeter debris netting system must be capable of absorbing an impact force of a drop test consisting of a 400-pound bag of sand 30 inches in diameter that is dropped from the highest walking/working level being protected. Any item that the safety net catches must be removed as soon as possible (at least before the next work shift).
This netting can be attached to the appropriate level where needed by using clamps. A pole extends upward from the clamps, providing suspension for the poles extending out horizontally from the building. Each system can be reused as long as it is inspected for damage before each use. Another benefit of these systems is that they can be moved up to other floor levels as construction progresses. This is a viable netting solution that provides security and safety to workers, the public, and equipment.
Passive Fall Protection vs. Active Fall Protection
All netting systems are known as passive, or barrier, fall protection. By definition, once a netting system is properly installed, it will protect all workers and equipment within a defined area. However, if a safety net (whether vertical or horizontal) is not rated as a personal fall arrest system, use of lifelines may be necessary.
OSHA defines a lifeline as a component consisting of a flexible line for connection to an anchorage at one end to hang vertically (vertical lifeline) or for connection to anchorages at both ends to stretch horizontally (horizontal lifeline) and that serves as a means for connecting other components of a personal fall arrest system to the anchorage. For the highest level of protection, employers and contractors should employ both a netting system and a personal horizontal lifeline for employees.
Rarely is securing a perimeter for falling debris and personnel the only method of fall protection when working on a construction project. A number of other obstacles usually exist, including (but not limited to): elevator shafts, window or door frames, skylights, holes, and openings. A hole is defined as any void or gap 2 inches or more in the least dimension in a floor, roof, or other walking/working surface. An opening is a gap or void 30 inches or more in height and 18 inches or more wide in a wall or partition through which employees can fall to a lower level.
Vertical netting systems can serve as guardrails around these, and personnel netting systems can be installed beneath them for limited fall protection. However, safety is ensured when a lifeline is added to the equation. Horizontal and vertical lifelines are easy to use and assemble and can save lives. They also can be reused if inspected before each use to ensure no damage has occurred to the product.
Choosing the Right Netting and Fall Protection
The most important thing to remember when choosing the type of netting and fall protection to use at your job site is that all projects are unique, so different types of fall protection can be used to achieve the highest level of protection. It may be helpful to consult with a professional safety distributor or netting manufacturer. Suppliers and distributors with extensive experience in netting safety solutions will evaluate each individual project and let you know what type of protection will offer the best safety plan for you and your employees.
Some companies have developed adjustable personnel and debris net systems that are rated for complete fall protection. Suppliers and distributors can help to make sure the equipment you purchase meets all of the necessary safety standards to ensure a safe and productive project from beginning to end. They will let you know how your fall protection plan and equipment can evolve as you change elevations and incorporate new technologies.