Big Ben – How D-marc Provides Safe Access on the Roof
In August last year, following controversy caused by the decision to silence Big Ben, the Great Bell of the clock at the northern end of the Palace of Westminster, refurbishment work began. While many people erroneously believe that Big Ben is the name of the clock, it’s not. The clock tower is officially dubbed the Elizabeth Tower (renamed in 2012 to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, before which is was known simply as the Clock Tower). The clock itself was completed in 1859 by Ian Westworth and hailed the most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world. The clock tower is a British cultural icon and tourists from around the world flock to marvel at the sight and listen to its chimes.
The tower began a four-year period of renovation work and the bells have been silenced in order to protect the hearing and this has led to a series of newspaper articles (both offline and on) as a row has raged over the silencing of this iconic bell. The Daily Mail weighed in, describing this as a case of “health and safety gone mad”, saying the Big Ben chimed defiantly throughout the Blitz, providing a “source of inspiration and pride to a beleaguered nation” and commenting that where the Luftwaffe failed, health and safety has succeeded! This wasn’t quite the truth, however – the bells were silenced for two years during World War 1 and the clock faces were not illuminated at night in a bid to avoid guiding attacking German zeppelins to the capital. Again, during World War 2, the clock faces were kept dark at night to avoid acting as a landmark and guide for bomber pilots though a German bombing raid damaged two of the clocks dials in 1941. Ironically, he clock stopped for 24 hours not long afterwards when a workman repairing the air-raid damage to the clock face dropped a hammer into the works.
Here at D-marc we’re proud to be a small part of the current refurbishment initiative. Height safety installation specialist, Eiger Safety, chose our D-marc™ demarcation barriers to be installed on a metal profile standing seam roof on the River Thames right next to the Houses of Parliament. The roof barrier system is being used to create a safe zone on the rooftop. Eiger Safety was tasked with developing a roof access strategy following the hierarchy of safety in order to provide a collective protection solution for the whole of the roof area.
D-marc™ products were used extensively as part of the collective protection system in order to provide workers with clearly defined safe access routes across the roof to areas where regular maintenance work is carried out. D-marc™ products were then installed to demarcate the safe working zones on the roof top. Our products were chosen because they are easy to install and non-penetrative, ensuring that no damage is done to the roofing materials below.
Here at D-marc we are so proud to have played our part in ensuring that the refurbishment work being carried out on Big Ben can be done safely and that this icon of British life goes ahead to serve our country for centuries to come. In our own small way, we’ve played our part in the cultural history of Britain.