Safe delivery and storage of insulation

The days of ‘jump on the back and unload that insulation’ are fortunately behind us thanks to the HSE’s drive to reduce injuries from falls, but this only resolves one of the issues with ensuring the safe delivery and storage of thermal insulation boards.

When looking at how best to deliver and store insulation, many considerations are common across all generic types of flat roof insulation (PIR/XPS/MW/CG), but some are specific to the individual product, as are location conditions.

Here at QI HQ, we spend most of our time dealing with deliveries into London, which like Manchester, Birmingham and many other of our cities has very specific issues not experienced in out-of-town sites. ULEZ and Congestion Charge (or their equivalents) are much discussed nationally, but there are also requirements for FORS Bronze, Silver or Gold deliveries, timed crane lifts and limited on-site storage to contend with.

Whilst these may be issues many roofing contractors are not currently dealing with, the latest planning revisions announced by Michael Gove will see a construction industry switching focus to the re-development and expansion of cities across the UK, introducing more roofing contractors into cities who will have to negotiate the above issues.

In addition to timing deliveries to align with crane lift slots (which are far from guaranteed to be at the time booked!) the method of lifting to roof level needs to be signed off by on-site H&S, and whilst we are seeing less brick forks being used on sites, we still come across this totally unacceptable method of lifting insulation.

XPS Supercubes (or Jumbo’s) bring other considerations. Whilst lifting a 2.5m x 2.5m x 2.5m block of insulation to roof level is perfectly feasible and H&S compliant, some sites will not accept on-site stropping of the Supercubes, requiring the QI warehouse to pre-strop the Supercubes before shipment, or breaking the Supercube into four smaller packages, but these increase lifting time.

As some clients switch to requiring a non-combustible insulation board such as FOAMGLAS or ROCKWOOL within the roof assembly, the increased weight per pallet needs to be considered when loading out a roof. Whilst it may not be an issue or cause for concern, it must be raised with the main contractor and considered.

Lastly, because we are running out of space, check the contractual small print. Many QI customers are seeing a contract clause being introduced stating ‘Please supply the relevant documents to confirm the insulation is flame retardant/shrink wrap is flame retardant. Flammable materials are to be covered with flame retardant sheeting.  This is because it is an insurance condition for the main contractor and not all insulation boards contain a flame retardant, and most shrink wrap is not flame retardant, leaving the roofing contractor to purchase expensive flame retardant sheeting.

Next month: What is the importance of a WFRL?