How Fitting Fibrelite Access Covers Can Also Help Managers Get Health & Safety Covered!

Designed to be a ‘fit-and-forget’ product, Fibrelite’s FRP composite manhole covers and modular trench panels come in all load ratings from A15 to F900 and are maintenance-free, durable and very strong as a matter of course.  But did you know that they can also help eliminate a number of common – and often quite serious – health and safety issues?

Best Strength to Weight Ratio

Fibrelite composite access covers are highly-engineered and manufactured here in the UK.  Independent testing to BS EN 124 criteria demonstrates that they also surpass the relevant class conditions for deflection under load and this commitment to product excellence means Fibrelite covers have the very best strength to weight ratio available in the market today.

Safer Manual Handling

By definition the majority of access covers are lifted, sometimes frequently. And while traditional metal or concrete covers are heavy and may even require specialist equipment making lifting time-consuming and expensive; composites are different.  David Holmes, Fibrelite Technical Director, explained:  “As well as being lightweight – typically a third of the weight of metal or concrete – our covers are designed for safe lifting, having up to two lifting points for ergonomic lifting handles which means that just one or two operatives can move them quickly and easily without risk of back injury or crushed fingers or toes, even at the heavier load ratings.”

No risk of Lacerations from Rust

Composite covers also have an inherent resistance to corrosion so are an obvious choice where water, wastewater or corrosive liquids are involved. This also makes them ideal where underground infrastructure requires protection from external corrosive compounds such as salt.  So it stands to reason that by choosing a composite cover you are avoiding the risk of lacerations or slips, trips and potentially serious falls that can result when metal or concrete covers rust or crumble.

Skid Resistance

As every Health & Safety Manager knows, slips, trips and falls constitute the majority of general accidents so non-slip treads can be moulded into Fibrelite covers during manufacture. Independent testing has demonstrated that these covers exceed the advisory regulations even when wet – as Holmes confirmed:  “Our finished covers exceed the minimum slip resistance requirement of BS EN124/PAS26, HA104/09: Part 5 and the UK HSE minimum slip resistance guidelines when tested in accordance with BS EN13036-4:2011.  This makes them a safer alternative to concrete or metal whatever the weather conditions.”

No risk of Theft

There is no risk of theft with a Fibrelite composite cover as composites have no resale value in the scrap market – so you won’t be left with a dangerous, uncovered hole in the ground.  Locks and restraining bolts are also available for added security.  And as the covers can be moulded in virtually any colour or colour combination they can be colour-coded to identify specific underground services and ensure the right trench is opened first time.

Avoiding Electrostatic Discharge

Electrostatic discharge always needs to be properly controlled in the workplace and especially in areas that are also open to the public.  Potential electrostatic discharging can be eliminated by using a “fully conductive” composite cover which uses a metalized fibre within the moulding process to achieve electrical continuity across the entire surface of the cover.  Holmes said: “Our fully conductive covers exceed the surface resistivity requirements of PAS26 and while the standard calls for a maximum value of 1 KΩ/cm², our covers achieve a value of 0.0144 KΩ/cm².” 

Avoiding Hot Metal or Steam Burns

In some industries, such as thermal energy, metal access covers can get very hot as they conduct nearly all the heat below through to their surface resulting in potential dangerous conditions at ground level.   The thermal gradient properties of a composite steam cover significantly reduce the risk of burns as the surface temperature is typically only ever slightly above ambient temperature. In fact, the best high-quality Fibrelite steam covers maintain their cool-to-touch properties and ability to support vehicular loads even when pushed to a test temperature of 400°F (2040C).

Holmes concluded:  “The majority of first-time enquirers often know quite a lot about composites in terms of practicalities but are often pleasantly surprised to learn just how many of those benefits also make them the safer choice for replacement works or new projects.”

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