What are the 5 most used perimeter security systems in buildings?
What is perimeter security in buildings, and why is it so important?
The term ‘perimeter security’ refers to all measures designed to reduce the risk of people and objects falling during the different phases of construction of a building.
On-site perimeter security is a basic element in the planning and execution phase of a building, as it has to ensure maximum safety for people on site, and at the same time, contribute to the highest possible productivity .
Safety on site is often perceived as an added cost, or as a factor that has a negative influence on productivity, without considering that, in the event of an accident, the consequences can be very significant, both for the worker and for the company, not only in economic terms (compensation), but also in productive terms (suspension of the work) and legal terms (criminal/legal liability).
What are the statistics on accidents on construction sites due to falls of people or objects?
According to European statistics, the industrial sector with the highest accident rate is the construction industry:
For this reason, safety in the workplace, and particularly in the construction industry, is a problem that is attracting more and more interest and effort to solve.
It is essential to constantly inform and train employees about potential risks, as well as to implement preventive measures, such as promoting the use of effective systems that limit, reduce or eliminate potential accidents.
Among accidents, which are the most frequent and require the most attention?
Falling from a height stands out, by far, as the main cause of accidents on construction sites, and among the main factors of influence, we find:
- Work is constantly carried out on surfaces that are at different levels, having to leave large areas completely free to enable the execution of subsequent phases (enclosures, installations, etc.).
- The repetition of work, and the routine of workers on site, often contribute to a decrease in the perception of accident risks, so that preventive measures are relaxed or exposure to risk is underestimated.
- Difficulty in achieving ZERO risk exposure for each and every worker, in each and every one of their daily activities.
What actions can we take to try to reduce the risk of falling from a height?
To reduce this risk, we will have to consider 2 categories of risks in the construction phase:
- Fall of people/objects internal to the slab: It is a fall that can occur in the formwork phase of the slab, when there are still gaps in the formwork (which is not completely covered).
- Fall of people/objects in the perimeter: It is a fall that can occur outside the edge of the slab, due to lack of protection or insufficient protection.
Now that we have gotten into the subject, let’s analyze which are the
5 perimeter protection systems most frequently used on site during the execution of the structure.
1.- Posts (bodyguards)
A post (bodyguard) is a vertical structure that, combined with horizontal elements (planks or handrails), provides collective protection against the risk of falling from a height, preventing a fall.
In building construction, posts are differentiated by height and by type of anchorage to the slab:
- Anchorage with clamp: The post is fastened to the slab by ‘hugging’ it and adjusting its mechanism, until the proper firmness is achieved.
- Anchoring with dowel in the slab: The post is anchored by drilling into the slab and installed using an anchoring element.
- Anchorage with lost element (basquit): The post is inserted into an accessory (basquit) that has been previously installed in the fresh concrete, which is lost and serves as a housing for the post.
- Compression Post: Advanced post system, with a telescopic mechanism that is fixed between the two slabs, enabling the increase of the height of protection up to 2.50 m, increasing the level of perimeter protection significantly.
2.- Safety Screen Systems
Safety Screen is a perimeter protection system capable of creating a complete protection screen, with the aid of a temporary metal structure that can be handled using a crane. In general, this system enables the protection of two or three floors at a time, and they are usually present in “skyscraper” style buildings, where it is necessary to face the powerful gusts of wind that occur at great heights.
The system consists of metal beams anchored to the slab, which enable the installation of a complete perimeter protection with wood or steel panels.
This type of system is usually lifted in modules with the need for a crane. The use of mechanized lifting systems is usually required in high-rise buildings, so that the modules do not become loose under the action of the wind during handling.
3.- Perimeter scaffolding
Perimeter scaffolding protection is a very common solution in some countries (such as Italy), fulfilling a double role: to protect the perimeter of the construction site and to allow the movement of workers during all phases of construction.
The scaffolding is made up of vertical, horizontal and diagonal metal modular elements, which enable the placement of platforms for the passage of people.
Perimeter scaffolding, in turn, usually represents a very high cost, although it provides multiple benefits for workers and safe working conditions for a construction site.
4.- ALSINA-RSA System
The ALSINA-RSA system is one of the most comprehensive, versatile and effective perimeter protection systems on the market, since it requires a minimum investment, which contributes significantly to cost savings on site, as its installation and relocation DOES NOT REQUIRE THE USE OF A CRANE.
The system is composed of a vertical aluminum beam structure, to which the protective nets are anchored, covering the entire perimeter and the height between floors, providing TOTAL coverage.
Unlike traditional systems, which block the use of the crane, require a lot of manpower and interfere with different construction phases, the ALSINA-RSA system represents an outstanding evolution, because it reduces unnecessary costs (crane, manpower), does not interfere with the various phases (formwork assembly, enclosures) and its assembly is simple and fast (productivity).
The system of poles and forks is a type of solution that is well established in many markets, but, unlike those mentioned above, it always needs to be accompanied by a perimeter protection system (e.g., posts with horizontal elements, etc.). Their role is to pick up objects or people, and they do not prevent falls. This is a basic system that has been applied for decades in most markets in the absence of other systems or more advanced preventive measures.
As we have seen, the increasing concern to reduce the number of accidents at work, especially in the construction industry, has contributed to the development and evolution of different technical solutions, with a common objective: to avoid accidents.
The wide range of different types of solutions available today enables companies to adopt preventive measures with a higher degree of precision and tailored to their needs. Although construction is the industry with the highest exposure to falls from heights, there is a positive trend in terms of accident reduction and prevention.