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Scaffolding safety: 5 scaffolding safety do’s

Photo shows a worker on scaffoldingThis blog explores the subject of safe scaffolding and focuses on 5 scaffolding do’s which ensure safety of a scaffolding work site. Read on for valuable information on how to maintain safety on site and ensure the wellbeing of workers and members of the public when scaffolding work is taking place.

1. Review, evaluate and inspect

Before work begins, it is always a good idea to review and inspect the work site. This allows you to identify possible hazards and take steps to avoid them. You should ensure that any towers are not erected above a height recommended in their manufacturers erection instructions. A site inspection should also consider issues like the suitability of the ground for the structures built or being built and the impact of any weather conditions on existing structures or equipment.

2. Look out for unfolding hazards

Common hazards that can occur when scaffolding work is being undertaken are falls from a height, instability of the structure, electrical hazards or incorrect loading, and / or supporting of the structure. Hazards can arise quickly and unexpectedly, so need to be looked out for every day as work continues. For example, if the weather has been poor, this may have caused a change in the suitability of the structure to hold a certain load, or if some parts of the structure have broken, someone may try to ‘fix’ them while inadvertently causing them to be dangerous – an example of this is where the structure breaks and someone used bricks to support it. Someone on the look out for hazards should also check that the structure has been built correctly. Even if one section has been constructed incorrectly, this has a knock-on effect on the stability of other parts of the scaffold and can make the whole structure unsafe.

3. Ensure proper training

By law, people working on a scaffolding site must have received a certain level of training. It is a good idea to check workers’ credentials and provide extra training where you suspect a worker may be unaware of certain aspects of the job. Speaking to contractors and workers on the site will help you evaluate whether proper training has been received and or understood.

4. Check for stability changes

The stability of a scaffold can change within a matter of a few hours to one that is dangerous and is not able to support the loads it is being expected to. Factors that can impact the structure include adverse weather conditions like high winds, the condition of the underlying foundations and workers’ neglect of safety.

5. Inspect equipment

On a building site and particularly where work will be carried out at height on aluminium scaffold towers, for example there is an array of safety equipment that workers’ lives will depend on. As such equipment should be inspected to ensure it is not worn, or broken and there should always be regular checks to ensure that safety equipment such as googles, rails and toe platforms has not gone missing.

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