One of the main purposes of scaffolding is to enable construction workers or tradespeople to get to difficult to reach places so they can perform certain tasks, such as roofers carrying out repairs or window cleaners.
When installed and used correctly, scaffolding is a great asset and helpful structure; however, it can also present many risks and dangers as a direct result of working at a height.
There is an increased risk of serious or fatal injury from falling, there is the potential to be struck by falling tools, materials or debris and there is the danger of being close to overhead power lines which could lead to electrocution.
There is a responsibility on the site manager and scaffold inspector to ensure that the site is a safe place to work and that every precaution has been put in place to reduce the risk that comes with working at a height.
Try to avoid working at a height
Sometimes you are able to get the job done without having to work at a height and it’s important that you assess whether it’s a necessity before work begins as working at a height should be avoided, where possible.
This is best done by carrying out a comprehensive risk assessment before you start the work to identify the dangers and what needs to be put in place to reduce risks.
If there is an alternative method available, or the risk is far too high, then working at height should not go ahead.
Inspect your scaffolding
Scaffolding inspections are essential and should be carried out immediately after the scaffolding has been erected and before any work is carried out on it to ensure that it is safe, and then weekly thereafter.
A professional and thorough inspection will identify any weaknesses or dangers in the structure, for example, if it isn’t level or not adequately braced or tied to the building.
It will also bring to light any missing parts/pieces that could protect your workers, such as handrails and crash decks.
Provide appropriate training and PPE
Again, before work commences, all workers should be provided with the appropriate training and PPE for working at heights.
This will ensure that they are aware of their responsibilities and the safety measures/procedures they need to follow to prevent a fall or injury, as well as being educated on how to properly use the equipment that will be protecting them which may include helmets, harnesses and fall arrest kits.
Keep workspaces tidy
A clean and tidy work environment doesn’t just make working quicker and easier, it can actually keep workers safer too.
Slips, trips and falls mainly occur as a result of poor housekeeping across all industries, but particularly in construction where tools, working materials and debris can often be left laying around which presents a trip hazard.
By simply encouraging site workers to tidy up after themselves and keep walkways clear, you can greatly reduce the risk of an accident.
Assess your surroundings and the environment
Weather is another hazard that can lead to accidents, particularly strong winds blowing materials and debris off scaffolding and onto the ground below.
Therefore, any work from a height should be halted when there is dangerous weather expected, including strong winds, heavy rain, thunderstorms and snow.
It is also common for those working at height to be exposed to overhead power lines which present the potential danger of electrocution.
Though this will normally be covered in the relevant training that should be completed before work begins, and the danger will be identified in any risk assessment that takes place, it will need to be clearly communicated to the worker so that they are aware of these potential hazards themselves.
Don’t cut corners
Above all, when it comes to training, equipment, inspections – whatever it is we have mentioned – the most important thing is that you take the time and care to ensure that it is all done properly.
Don’t try to save money by using cheap PPE that may not be as effective and don’t try to rush things by skipping the inspection so you can get straight to work, as this is where mistakes are made and workers are put in danger.
Never sacrifice site safety for speed, convenience or cost and always take the time to be as thorough as possible, even if it delays the work.
The safety of your workers and site visitors is the most important part of your job so seeking the advice and support of a professional team can also be helpful in ensuring that falls and injuries are prevented.
Call us today on 0121 348 7810 for more information on our scaffolding services where safety always comes first!