Iron technology leader Saint-Gobain PAM UK, part of leading international materials company Saint-Gobain, has re-emphasised the need for manhole covers that prioritise health and safety considerations.
An increasing number of accidents are occurring from drainage operatives lifting heavy access covers, with injuries placing high pressures on companies in terms of personnel costs and time.
United Utilities, the UK’s largest water and wastewater company, has stressed that manual handling of manhole covers is a major issue for the utility industry. The United Utilities network includes more than three million access covers, with approximately 150 being installed or replaced and 150 undergoing general maintenance every week. More than 100 covers are lifted every single day.
If unsafe, these pose a serious threat to a company’s resources. United Utilities reports ten notable accidents occurring every year, resulting in a loss of 30 working days per incident, which equates to 300 days a year – creating further costs, delayed maintenance schedules and great inconvenience to all involved.
Health and safety is recognised as being a central concern for companies operating buried networks that require regular access. As a result, Saint-Gobain PAM UK has developed the Opt-Emax, a range of one-man operable access covers. Through a unique design, each triangular cover section is independently hinged, considerably reducing effort required when lifting compared with traditional access covers. Once opened, the hinge blocks at 900, preventing accidental closure.
Paul Thompson, marketing manager of municipal castings at Saint-Gobain PAM UK, comments: “Our high performance Opt-Emax product provides an assured level of safety for those who need to gain access to below ground services for inspection or maintenance purposes. Our ongoing commitment to delivering assured levels of safety has led to the development of a product that is able to cope with the day-to-day operations that personnel have to undertake, delivering a solution that has the operator at the heart of its design.”
He adds: “Opt-Emax is kitemarked to EN124 and fully compliant with the additional requirements of HA 104/09, SFA and CESWI. The product also includes enhanced security benefits, protecting against theft with an innovative locking system. Opt-Emax features a ‘master’ cover section that has to be unlocked before the remaining sections will open sequentially. It has also been developed so the entire unit can be protected with just one optional locking kit, which can be fitted retrospectively should additional security or anti-theft capability be required.
Saint-Gobain PAM UK is adding a further three new products to its current Opt-Emax range to meet ongoing changes to market needs. The range includes clear opening options extending from 600x450 to 2250x750, plus GripTop® anti-skid options for key sizes