Autumn has officially arrived if the dramatic change in weather is anything to go by and with it comes some seasonal health and safety hazards for scaffolders and scaffolding.
Here is what you will need to consider as we head into the colder, wetter and darker Autumn/Winter months…
Rain, snow and ice can make slips more prevalent and strong winds can cause objects to fall or become unstable.
We’ve already started experiencing storms this Autumn and there will surely be plenty more to come so it is important that you put procedures in place well in advance. Ensure that wet areas are clearly marked with signs and cleared up as soon as possible, and that items susceptible to strong winds are regularly checked and secured in place.
Being outside and exposed to the cold can also put your health at risk so you need to wrap up warm with hats and thick, fleeced jackets when possible. But, also remember to keep on your PPE such as hi-vis and hard hats.
Make sure that you check the weather forecast every day so that you can prepare for any storms and, if the weather becomes too extreme and dangerous, then the best thing to do is postpone work until it clears up.
During the next few months, it tends to be darker throughout the day and will get darker a lot earlier, so you are likely to be working with very little sunlight. This means that vision may be restricted at times which, again, makes you more susceptible to trips and slips, walking into objects or being hit by moving vehicles.
One method of risk management would be to display clear and visible warning signs on the premises to highlight any dangers that might be more difficult to see when it’s dark.
You should also make sure that materials are not left lying around to create trip hazards and that hi-vis jackets are worn at all times so that everybody on site is visible even in darkness.
Weather is not only a danger because it causes slippery surface, flying debris and exposes you to illness, but it can be hazardous to scaffolding itself and make it less secure for workers.
Though most scaffold systems are built to withstand all weather conditions you should still increase your inspections when there are more severe weather conditions such as storms, snow and very strong winds. Even the sturdiest of structures can become fragile in 60+ mph winds.