Every day we receive enquiries from scaffolding contractors asking us about our “Crash Deck” or “Crash Decking” systems. The term “Crash Decking” is commonly used amongst construction site professionals when describing fall safety solutions. The term crash decking implies there is going to be some kind of impact & it has come to be associated with the possibly of stopping a falling person or a crash or fall from height. The MacDeck system that we provide is an internal fall prevention / work platform for traditional build, timber frame and construction projects. It is designed to prevent falls, not to protect you against them.
As mentioned previously, it could be argued that the term ‘Crash Deck’ could imply that a person or falling object may be protected if it was to “Crash” into the system. This is something that we advise against, as it is certainly not the case.
With so many people within the construction industry still referring to Safety Decking or platform decking as Crash Decking, we have created this article to educate and inform construction workers about the difference between fall protection and fall prevention.
This term “Crash Decking” should be used with caution, in fact we actually advise against using this term. There are two main options available when working at height; Safety Decking such as the market leading MacDeck system, or a fall arrest bag such as the soft-landing system by the Forest Group. Soft Landing Systems (SLS) are generally either air-filled mats or soft-filled mats. These mats are designed to mitigate the risk of injury to workers from a fall from a distance of up to 2.5 meters.
The MacDeck system is a robust working platform which has undergone a rigorous testing regime to ensure we not only comply with UK Health & Safety regulations but surpass them too. Our system which boasts a load capacity of 2.0kn per m2 is the strongest injected moulded panel manufactured worldwide.
If a worker is on top of our MacDeck platform, he is safe and secure & he cannot fall. When a worker falls into a soft-landing system or a fall arrest bag, the g-force is limited. The worker will hopefully land safely onto a cushioned bag. However, if for any reason a worker fell from high up on a scaffold onto our MacDeck system, he could be injured.
Let’s take a look at one of our testing videos. This should help you to gain a better understanding of what would happen when a 70kg bag is dropped centrally onto our MacDeck system…
One the past last 18 months, the MacDeck system has undergone various testing regimes by Loughborough and Teesside University. Impact testing, to show that the tensile strength of system is not affected by UV exposure or drops from height.
The British Standard for impact testing is a 45kg sand bag, dropped three times from a height of 1.2 meters. As part of our testing, we dropped a 70kg sandbag from 2.8 meters, three times, and our panels showed no signs of damage on impact.
You can see how the 70kg bag of sand bounces off the Safety Decking without damaging it. Our Safety Decking has been designed to withstand the same load capacity as general-purpose scaffold — 2kn per m2.
When thinking about workers falling from height it would be a completely different scenario if an 80kg worker accidentally fell from height onto the deck.
If we think about 80kg worker falling as a dead weight. Similar to the example in the video above. From a 1-meter distance, a fall on to the ‘crash deck’ that yields no more than 2cm would cause a G-force exposure of about 50G.
Simply put; g-forces are a measure of kinetic energy which your body is subjected to, most often during acceleration or deceleration. 1g is equivalent to the earth’s gravitational pull.
In an accident however, your body may experience a tremendous amount of g-force in a very short period of time.
The MacDeck system is designed to flex and absorb some of the shock of falling objects. It is not designed to protect a human when falling from height. The more rigid the ‘Crash Deck’ the greater the G-force that would be exerted upon the worker. If the “Crash Deck” only yields 1cm, the force exerted to the worker is doubled to 100g.
According to GSU’s HyperPhysics Project, a 80kg person — wearing a seat belt and traveling at only 30 miles per hour—experiences around 45g’s of force in a front-end collision with a fixed object. It feels like getting hit with a mass of around 3,667kg or 3.6 tons of force acting on the body. If the passenger is wearing a seatbelt, at this G-force they could come away with superficial injuries.
For this reason, the term “Crash Deck” is a little bit misleading and we believe that it should never be used when describing Safety Decking. Safety Decking should never be considered as an option to protect someone from falls from height. An impact onto Safety Decking from the top of a scaffold could cause an internal bleeding, a ruptured spleen, a spinal fluid leak, and more. These injuries (especially if not mitigated/treated) can lead to organ shutdown, traumatic brain injuries, or even death.
MacDeck provides a safe solution for working at height. This allows you to work in confidence knowing you have the strongest safety platform under your feet. MacDeck provides a robust working platform which takes care of your operatives’ safety. This you work more efficiently on a profiled non-slip surface with high visibility. Our system also comes with a dual locking pin safety feature. This can be viewed from above to show that the system is locked correctly.
We’re confident you’ll love MacDeck just as much as we do.