When it comes to construction sites and projects, ensuring you’ve got the relevant safety systems in place is hugely important – and, as part of this, premium-quality scaffolding is a must.
However, just because scaffolding is designed to help keep workers safe doesn’t necessarily mean that people can do whatever they want on the scaffolding. Indeed, there are several safety precautions that you must take to ensure your staff stay safe – and we’ve outlined some of the key things you should know.
In the words of the #1 Kent Scaffolding Company, Blitz Scaffolding, “The importance of worker safety on scaffolding cannot be underestimated. Scaffolding does help to reduce the number of serious incidents, but with complacency, and lack of training, accidents can and do still take place. An amount of health and safety training is recommended for any construction team working on scaffolding.”
If you’re using scaffolding as a contract manager, taking steps to protect worker safety is integral. Some of the main things you should be keeping in mind include:
1. Always Start with Safe, High-Quality Scaffolding
Let’s face it – if you start out with scaffolding that’s already broken, damaged, or worn, you’re putting your staff at a much higher risk of injury.
As such, before you even start installing the scaffolding, ensure you’ve checked the materials to ensure there are no obvious signs of wear. Ideally, you should also try to hire or buy from a reputable provider if you don’t have your own scaffolding to reduce the chances of getting a dangerous scaffold system.
2. Hire a Trained Contractor to Erect the Scaffolding
Once you’re satisfied that the scaffolding is in good condition, you may want to hire a trained contractor to erect the scaffold (or send one of your team on a training course to gain certification). Indeed, having someone trained in erecting a scaffold safely can make a big difference in terms of your team’s own risk levels while working at heights.
3. Make Sure Guard Rails Are Suitably Positioned
Falls from a height are incredibly dangerous – but luckily, having suitably high guard rails can offer a simple solution to prevent this. Guard rails should be designed in such a way as to prevent slips and trips. This means having them at multiple heights so as to prevent anyone falling over, through, or slipping underneath the railings.
4. Never Store Items on Scaffolding
A common mistake that many people make is storing items on scaffolding. However, this can represent a serious risk as a trip hazard. Thus, any items being used on scaffolding systems should be removed once the worker has finished with them, and any items that need to be kept on the scaffolding temporarily (i.e., a toolbox) should be kept in a clearly marked and out of the way location.
5. Ensure Proper Bracing
Another factor that’s important to consider with scaffolding systems is bracing. These supports are integral to ensure the stability and safety of the design; failing that, it’s not impossible for the scaffold to simply fall over, potentially with people on it or crushing those below.
Braces should always be selected with the load of the scaffolding in mind. For example, if the scaffold is especially tall, it will become much more unstable, requiring more intensive bracing than a lower scaffold with just one or two platforms.
6. Ensure All Scaffolds Meet Health and Safety Legislation
There’s a great deal of legislation surrounding scaffolding in the UK, and for good reason too. As such, before anyone uses the scaffolding, always check that the core legal requirements have been met for worker safety and the business’s compliance.
7. All Operators Must Have Full PPE
Regardless of whether staff are working directly on the scaffold system or around it, ensuring that they have the relevant PPE (personal protective equipment) is vital. Common examples may include hard hats, protective gloves, and steel-toe-capped boots, to name a few.
8. Have Staff Wear High-Vis Clothing
Many moving parts are on and near a scaffolding system, which can put people at risk of being missed. As such, make sure that all workers operating on the scaffold wear high vis clothing (e.g., flourescent vests) to make them easier to see. Doing so can reduce the risk of someone getting accidentally injured due to not being noticed.
9. Watch Load Limits
Every scaffold system has a load limit – in other words, the maximum weight capacity it can support. Exceeding this limit can massively compromise the system’s safety; as such, operators must ensure that these are not exceeded. Furthermore, try to allow a little leeway in the load limit; it’s better safe than sorry!
10. Inspect Regularly
As a final tip, make sure to inspect the scaffolding regularly. Scaffolds must be checked daily before use
When used correctly, scaffolding can be an excellent resource to keep in mind. However, it’s also important to recognize here that incorrect scaffolding use can be dangerous. Accordingly, over one hundred people every year get injured due to using scaffolding incorrectly – leading to potentially massive injury claims against the company and understandable concerns among remaining staff members.
Don’t take the risk! Ensure you’ve started with the highest-quality scaffolding, and always keep our top tips in mind to reduce the chances of anything going wrong.