Buildings are at a much higher risk of fires during construction. Generally speaking the use of flame retardant shrink wrap sheeting for scaffolding is mandated by building regulations or industry specific standards. All scaffold wrap sheeting will burn easily if heated to a high enough temperature but flame retardant is added to the wrap to increase resistance to ignition, reduce flame spread, suppress smoke formation and prevent dripping.
Flame retardant shrink wrap standards and certification can seem confusing. How would you prove, if challenged, that you had taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the product you supplied met the flame retardant standards?
Read on for facts and links to resources to help you fulfill your health and safety obligations with confidence.
The European EN13501 flame retardant test is concerned with basic fire safety. Although EN13501 may be referred to by some people as a 'certificate' or 'scheme', correctly speaking it is a test report which is called up by building regulations. It is recommended that the EN13501 flame retardant test be repeated at least every 5 years but this is not essential if the formulation or production process of the shrink wrap film has not changed.
The EN13501 test is a ‘snapshot’ of a shrink wrap’s flame retardancy at a point in time. However, the problem with relying on EN13501 alone as complete proof of flame retardancy is that over time the manufacturer can gradually reduce the amount of flame retardant in the shrink wrap film without the distributors / users being aware. (Flame Retardant is the most expensive additive). If there are any changes at all to the formulation of the film, the EN13501 test is invalidated.
As the EN13501 flame retardant testing is organised by the supplier/distributor of the film and not the manufacturer, the system is reliant on the supplier’s knowledge of any changes to the formulation of the shrink wrap film and then their integrity (and competence) to do things correctly and re-test. There is no independent verification by a third party company that the shrink wrap being supplied meets the same standard achieved on the day of testing.
• If you are purchasing a scaffold shrink wrap film that has been tested to the EN13501 flame retardant standard always ask your supplier for a copy of the test report. If the test report is 12 months old or less, then the risk of significant product changes that may have affected the flame retardant performance will be reduced.
• Always check the details of the test report to ensure that the scaffold wrapping film meets the standard EN13501-1,b,S1,d0 where b = flame retardant, S1 = no toxic fumes and d0 = no falling fire droplets.
LOSS PREVENTION CERTIFICATION BOARD - LPS1207 & 1215
The LPCB is a flame retardant certification scheme managed by BRE Global. LPCB certification is independent confirmation that shrink wrap sheeting has met and continues to meet appropriate standards. All approved products can be downloaded free of charge from redbooklive.com. The BRE Group is entirely independent of government, commercial or vested interests of any kind - it is only influenced only by facts.
The LPCB flame retardant standards go far beyond the single test report of EN13501. The best way to think about the difference is that the LPCB is a complete monitoring and auditing system which manages the product and supply chain quality compliance.
To achieve the LPS1207 and LPS1215 standard requires an independent audit of the shrink wrap manufacturing facilities every year by the LPCB. During the audit, samples of scaffold shrink wrap film from three production runs that have taken place over the previous 12 months is taken and tested to ensure it reaches the flame retardancy standards laid down by the LPCB. This means that no 'deception' is possible as the product formulation that is being manufactured now has to be the same as that which was originally sent to the laboratories to obtain the initial flame retardant certification. Specifying from the LPCB's 'red book' significantly reduce risk and demonstrates due diligence.
• For the highest level of proof that a scaffold wrapping shrink film product is flame retardant you may want to consider a film that has been tested to the LPCB's LPS1207 and LPS1215 standard.
• Because of the nature of the annual audit, and because the validity of certificates can be checked online, the LPS1207 and LPS1215 certificate does not have an expiry date and a certificate is valid for as long as the annual monitoring & auditing is being carried out.
• By following Loss Prevention Certification Board Guidelines and using a shrink wrap film approved to LPS1207 & LPS1215 you may be able to get a discount on your insurance premiums.