Every line of business has its own challenges.
There is no denying that there are scaffolding risks for those working in the industry. The hazards are huge and it’s vital for any scaffolding provider to put all the necessary safety precautions in place before a single person gets to work.
The good news is that scaffold companies are getting better at this. The number of accidents and injuries recorded by the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) fell to an all-time low in 2019; out of 17,000 recording scaffolding operatives, there were just 74 incidents to individuals throughout the year.
It is important that we are continuously updating our knowledge.
Therefore, below are 5 of the core scaffolding risks to look out for when supporting any construction project.
1. Falls from height: the most widely recognized danger in scaffolding is falling from height. It is the biggest cause of serious injury and is often a result of missing guardrails, improper installation of them, and a failure to use personal fall arrest systems.
As with all hazards, full scaffolding risk control is required to minimize or even eradicate the potential for falling. The team will need proper access to their scaffold work platform (such as a secured ladder, a stair tower, or a ramp) and proof that all equipment has been correctly installed and assembled.
2. Scaffolding collapse: Another potential risk is the collapse of scaffolding. This happens when a scaffold is put together incorrectly or a mistake is made. This could include a loose bolt, an inadequately supported section of the constructor a miscalculation of how much weight the platform can hold.
Even a perfectly built scaffold should be regularly checked over to ensure that no defects have come into play. Ideally, you will use a scaffold competent person to carry out these checks. The smallest inaccuracy can put an entire team in very serious jeopardy.
3. Ineffective safety equipment: Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is always necessary. This should include hard hats, strong and sturdy non-skid work boots, and potentially tool lanyards. Without these items, the opportunity for injury and accidents is going to be substantially higher.
It’s also vital to reconsider all the safety equipment specifically used for and on the scaffolding; for example, harnesses, handrails and safety nets. Are they fit for purpose? Are any of them loose or missing from the site entirely?
4. Challenging weather: The scaffolding should be checked to ensure it is secured and correctly tied if more supports are required, and a competent person will need to thoroughly inspect the scaffolding before use for any breakages.
Work should be avoided entirely if the conditions are too dangerous; adverse weather such as heavy rain, sleet, ice, snow, and strong winds are a no-go. Worn wood planking becomes extremely slippery under these conditions, so if your team is continuing on site be sure to get rid of any snow, ice, mud, or wet leaves before commencing a job.
5. Falling materials: people working on the scaffold are not the only ones exposed to major risk. Materials and tools can fall from scaffold platforms and seriously injure individuals working or passing below. It will hardly come as a surprise that these people need protection.
Netting and toe boards can be installed to prevent equipment from falling to lower-level working areas or the ground, and you can also use barricades and shrink wrapping to physically separate activity on the scaffold platforms from anyone beneath.