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Metal tie brackets and sharp edges

Metal tie brackets used as timber connectors in house construction to tie roof trusses, wall frames and other timber components, often have sharp edges that pose risks to the safety of workers when needing to work near these components.

Injuries such as cuts, slashes and lacerations often involve contact with sharp edges from installed tie brackets. Multi-grip and universal brackets and similar types of ties often leave exposed sharp edges once installed and have caused serious injuries – see Figure 1 below.

Universal bracket leaving sharp edges
Universal bracket leaving sharp edges

Similar injuries can occur with other metal components that have sharp edges. These include metal roofing brace, steel strap and metal fascia and gutter components. However, this article focuses on the safety issue posed by the above tie brackets and how they are installed.

Under workplace health and safety laws, A Person Conducting Business or Undertaking (PCBUs,) including builders, contractors and employers have obligations to provide a safe workplace for their workers. This includes an obligation to eliminate risks to health and safety. If elimination is not reasonably practicable, risks must be reduced so far as is reasonably practicable.

Control measures

The first step is to try to eliminate the risk of injury. For example, by using tie methods that do not involve the use of metal tie brackets such as proprietary truss screws.

If elimination is not reasonably practicable, can a safer metal bracket tie system be used? For example, using angle brackets instead of multi-grip and universal brackets in configurations that do not leave protruding edges once installed.

If multi-grip and universal brackets are used, can other methods be used that avoid exposing workers to the sharp edges? For example, by blocking between the truss or rafter spacing.

The following additional safe work practices will also assist to reduce risks of injury:

  • Include sharp edge hazards and the control measures to minimise risk of injury in the safe work procedures for the work.
  • Include the need for protective footwear, such as boots and protective gloves.
  • Train workers (e.g., via inductions or toolbox talks) on the types of products and installations that posed hazards and safe work procedures.
  • Provide adequate supervision to ensure safe work procedures are adhered to.

To find out more, contact HIA's Building Services team.

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