Fibrelite's GRP Manhole Covers Address Cross Sector Health and Safety Issues

21 May 2013

Fibrelite showcased their full range of covers at the Birmingham NEC’s Safety and Health Expo which took place on 14 – 16th May.

According to RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) health and safety statistics for 2011/2012, the highest rate of injury was in water & waste (water supply, sewerage, waste management & remediation).

Fibrelite claim one sector experiencing significant change as a result of such health and safety concerns is the access cover industry – everything from manhole covers to large pit covers.

The switch from traditional heavy metal covers to composite as a standard for frequently handled covers on petrol station forecourts happened many years ago, in other industry sectors however the change is really just beginning.

According to Fibrelite, the design of these lightweight covers incorporates up to two lifting points for specially designed lifting handles. These allow the operator to remove the cover without trapping fingers or bending over thus maximising the safety of the lifting technique. The weight is kept close to the body preventing back injury; one of the main causes of absence from work and personal injury claims. Fibrelite say their composite covers are tested to BS EN 124 and are available with load ratings from A15 up to F900 depending on the application. The company has held accreditation to both the ISO quality standard and British Standards Kitemark since 1998. Fibrelite’s covers are manufactured using high-technology RTM production methods to create a highly engineered, monolithic composite product.

Over the last two years metal theft, strict health and safety policies (with associated  increasing insurance premiums as a result of claims) and becoming more concerned with whole life cost has made the whole construction industry start looking at alternative materials.

Fibrelite says that since the beginning of 2011 it has experienced a significant increase in new enquiries from the utilities, public and general industrial sectors and that this increased demand is mainly due to the numerous health and safety benefits of high quality glass reinforced plastic (GRP) composite materials as an alternative replacement for heavier covers as well as the metal theft epidemic and the subsequent dangerous holes in the ground that the thieves leave behind.

“30 years ago we educated the international petroleum industry that it could have a ‘like for like’ equivalent at a time when steel and concrete were entrenched in people’s minds,” says Ian Thompson, Fibrelite’s Managing Director. “It’s a long journey and it’s not going to happen overnight. The construction industry is a couple of years behind the aerospace industry in terms of obtaining that traction and a snowballing effect whereupon designers and specifying engineers are confidently putting composite materials into the specification.”

Photo provided by Fibrelite.

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