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Sat 12 Nov 2005 04:00 AM

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Aluma: Edging ahead in GCC safety stakes

Falls from height kill hundreds of construction workers around the world every year. Daniel Taylor, business development manager at Aluma Systems ME delivers his verdict on the company’s edge protection system, being promoted on the building sites of the GCC and at the forthcoming Big 5 show.

|~|95vis200.gif|~|Daniel Taylor: “The response to the [edge protection] system has been good; we’re going to carry on trying to get it onto as many sites as possible.” |~|What product are you showing at The Big 5 exhibition?

We’re going to be exhibiting our edge protection safety panels known as the Aluma Shield Edge Protection System. These are large steel mesh panels which we now sell as standard with our formwork systems, so the contractors who buy the formwork get these panels anyway — anywhere where our formwork is deployed, these panels are the method of protection.

We also have the one-off sells for the casted slab; this is for any floors below that have already been completed. This will be supplied as standard with our formwork.

We’ve made it possible to provide this edge protection system to contractors at commercially acceptable prices. It’s not rocket science, but it is something that we feel is a useful step in the right direction in terms of site safety.

What do you think of site safety here in the region?

When I see things like a piece of wire with coloured tape across as the method of edge protection, then that is a little worrying. If someone goes through that there’s no chance it’s going to stop them.

The majority of the contractors here do want to progress and to evolve their edge protection safety methods. In the past it’s been a case of it’s not been commercially viable for them to do so when cheaper options are available (such as the scaffold tube and tape painted red and white that you can sometimes see around the sites here).

At the end of the day they’re not doing anything illegal, but in the UK edge protection laws are much stricter. A lot of contractors there use larger, full mesh panels to stop items such as hammers and drills from falling under the scaffolding, and also to help prevent the workers from going over the side. In that respect we think that this is something that can only do good.

Why will contractors be tempted to use the system?

We’ve done a lot of work to try to make it a commercially viable option, and not more than a contractor would pay for, for example, the tube and clamp system. For a smaller amount of money, they can now have something that is 100% safe.

There were some edge protection systems on offer here that were coming in from the West, but they were so expensive that many of the contractors here just couldn’t consider it as a possibility.

Now we’ve got the commercial aspect right, we’re producing it here in the UAE, and we can supply it to contractors at a good price.

How much does the system cost?Currently, it is being supplied at approximately US $38 (AED140) per linear metre.

What has the take up on the product been like so far?

We’ve already sold the Aluma Shield Edge Protection System to a variety of contractors. It’s being used on the Doha City Centre project in Qatar; the Five Towers project for Al Habtoor Engineering, and the contractor, Al Hamed, has just purchased it for the casted slab and formwork systems for the Lake Terrace project at Jumeirah Lake Towers.

It’s also being used by Al Futtaim Carillion on the Dubai Festival City site, and Ascon is using it for its C3 Tower, a further project at the Jumeirah Lake Towers development.

What has the response been from the sites that are now using the edge protection system?

The feedback we’ve had has been very good. When I speak directly to the construction managers they have so much to deal with in their jobs; safety is something they’d like further peace of mind over, so they’re very happy with the product.

We also print the contractor’s name and logo onto the front of the system, so it faces out from the building. The commercial aspect to the contractor in terms of getting brand awareness from it means they’re putting out the right sort of message — “we are a contractor that takes safety seriously”. We thought that if we could get the price right then it would do very well.

The response to the system has been good; we’re going to carry on trying to get it onto as many sites as possible.

What kind of sites will it be used on — will only big contractors use it?

The smaller contractors are obviously going to have the smaller budgets, but when we were initially considering this product we also took into account the contractors’ other edge protection options.

On the medium to large-scale projects the contractors will at least have to purchase clamps, scaffold tube and fittings, so we thought that if we could get the price of our edge protection system as close to that as possible per linear metre, they would choose our system because of the advantages involved in paying that little bit extra.

But for the smaller sites, whose budgets for edge protection will probably be non-existent, it probably wouldn’t be something they would look at.

For medium to large-scale projects, however, and any tower above 10 floors, contractors should be considering it. ||**||

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