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Is your handrail up to scratch?

8 May 2019

Kee Klamp®  fittings have been an enduring mainstay of the handrail and barrier market for decades thanks to their simplistic but durable nature. For many, this long-lasting and effective solution is the only option when it comes to separating people from hazards.

We have spoken many times about why we believe fittings systems such as Kee Klamp®  are far superior to fabricated solutions, with the incredible durability of the fittings a big part of why we suggest it to our customers.

Unfortunately, however, even our systems can become hazardous - not due to a failure of the system, but due to the fact that as with any system that provides a protective solution, correct installation is a huge factor in the long term safety of the system itself.

When we install a fittings system ourselves, we will ensure that the installation is carried out to the highest standards, ensuring a long term protective barrier that can last for decades.

However, when we supply our fittings to customers for installation by a third party, problems can occur, and issues might arise that only become apparent long after the installer will accept responsibility for it. Reasons for incorrect installation can include lack of understanding of the system or even arise from cutting corners to save money.

Whatever the reason, it can lead to the system failing and becoming a hazard itself, essentially making it no safer than a cheaper, fabricated system, or even no system at all.

 

Failure

Below are some common mistakes that we encounter when inspecting barrier systems installed by third parties.

 

 

 

 

This is a common one. Though brickwork might seem sturdy, barriers should not be installed on the top of brickwork as the top layer might break when weight is applied. Kee Klamp is designed to take the weight of someone using it as a support, but the brickwork is not.

The system above should be fitted into either a 250mm deep, resin-filled pocket in the brickwork, or 3no courses down the side of the wall, fixed with type 68 fittings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The problem here should be quite obvious, even if you aren’t an expert, but we encounter far too many barriers - both fittings systems and fabricated solutions - which are not properly installed in concrete. Here the concrete has come loose and turned the handrail itself into a far greater hazard than if there were no handrail there at all.

When setting an upright into concrete, the bored hole should be no shallower than 150mm, and the concrete block itself must be 400mm cubed minimum to avoid this. This might not be something that a third party installer is aware of.

 

 

 

 

 

The problem here might not be immediately obvious, but once you see it, you’ll wonder how anyone thought it was a good idea. If a Kee Klamp system should not be fixed onto the top layer of brickwork due to the risk of breakage when weight is applied, then it definitely should not be fixed to wood.

Though it might look safe at first glance, the wood could easily splinter once the system is loaded, and lead to someone getting wet, injured and possibly worse.

 

 

 

Another big problem we encounter due to third party installation is corrosion.

All Kee Klamp®  fittings are hot dip galvanised, ensuring long term durability and resistance against rust and corrosion in the most demanding coastal areas. Properly installed, a Kee Klamp system should last up to 30 years or more, even right next to Niagara Falls.

As well as this, when properly installed, all tube will be safely closed off with a d-return or similar to protect not only the inner tube, but also users of the system from injury. However, if the tube is left open due to poor design and installation, the system will rust and become at best useless, and at worst, dangerous.

Should any kind of welding be applied to the system - such as to attach non-compliant signage or additional rail - the galvanised coating of the fittings will be completely destroyed, dramatically shortening the life span of your barrier.

 

 

 

The solution

The above examples are a perfect illustration of why we advise getting your barrier system - no matter if it is fittings based or fabricated - properly inspected and certified by a competent and qualified company.

Kee Systems will come to your premises and carry out a full inspection of your barrier or handrail and tell you whether it is fit for purpose. Even if the issues are not as obvious as in the above pictures, if your barrier was not properly installed you could get a nasty surprise further down the line, landing you in hot water legally if someone is injured.

We believe fittings are by far the superior option, but only when installed correctly. If you are concerned your system is not up to scratch, whether it is a fittings-based design or fabricated, call us on 0208 874 6566, or use our online contact form to book an inspection by one of our qualified engineers.

 

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