Working from heights on scaffolding equipment is a common task for construction workers and there are many hazards which need to be carefully examined and addressed to minimise the risk of injury. Falls from heights account for a large percentage of construction accidents, so it’s paramount that all safety regulations are adhered to considering that most scaffolding related injuries can be prevented.
It’s vital for the safety of workers that each construction site undertakes a comprehensive risk assessment to identify any hazards and implement control measures to reduce each risk as much as possible. If any hazard on the construction site can’t be eliminated, contractors should try to minimise the risk as much as possible using the ‘Hierarchy of Control’ strategy which aims to either substitute the hazard for something safer, isolate the hazard from workers, or use engineering controls.
Along with implementing control measures to manage these hazards, workers are required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect their bodies from potential injuries. Scaffolder’s all over the world are required to wear work-specific PPE, so today we’ll be providing a simple overview of the most common types of PPE used on scaffolding.
Each construction site is different and therefore has unique hazards and risks. It’s important that workers refer to the onsite ‘Safe Work Method Statement’ to discover the mandatory PPE requirements for any given task on scaffolding equipment.
- Hard Hats & High-Visibility Clothing
Hard hats are designed to protect the head, eyes, and neck from falling objects, low ceiling collisions, and any other hazard. To ensure that workers remain visible at all times on a construction site, high-visibility clothing (such as the illuminous yellow and orange vests) must be worn to alert other workers and moving machinery even when there is poor lighting. Hard hats and high-visibility clothing are required to be worn by all people present on a construction site, both tradesmen and visitors.
- Steel Toe Cap Boots
While they may be heavy and a little uncomfortable, non-slip steel toe cap boots are a requirement for all workers and tradesmen on construction sites. Not only do they protect workers feet from falling objects and heavy machinery, but they also protect worker’s ankles if they happen to fall in any small holes and provide a non-slip surface on scaffold platforms. To be effective, it’s vital that non-slip steel toe cap boots fit worker’s feet properly and are relatively comfortable of course!
Depending on the construction site, tradesmen and labourers may be required to wear the following PPE when working on scaffolding equipment.
- Long Pants/Sunscreen
Some construction sites require scaffold workers to wear long pants to protect them from the sun and other hazardous materials. Usually this requirement, along with sunscreen to prevent heatstroke and serious sunburn, is only implemented in the summer months when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
- Eyewear/Face Protection
Scaffold workers are required to wear face protection and googles or safety glasses for specific tasks such as welding. Face protection is often integrated with hard hats while safety googles are used to prevent hazardous or sharp particles from getting into workers eyes. The face and eyes are the most vulnerable parts of the body which must be protected at all times.
- Hand Protection
Hand protection such as gloves may be required when working on scaffolding to protect hands from harmful materials, sharp objects, or when operating machinery or other construction equipment. There are a range of gloves available for different tasks, such as rubber gloves, welding gloves, and insulated gloves, and the material and design of each is unique.
- Hearing Protection
Earplugs or earmuffs are vital to scaffolding tasks that are in close proximity to loud machines such as chainsaws, grinders, jackhammers, and bulldozers. Hearing protection is often overlooked as it can reduce worker’s awareness of other activities which can create added risks, but they are a vital piece of safety equipment nonetheless.
Everyday, a range of workers use scaffolding equipment including builders, electricians, joiners, scaffolders, roofers, welders, and even painters and decorators. Each of these trades have their own unique risks and hazards so PPE on construction sites will naturally vary quite widely.
If you have any questions about the appropriate PPE for your next project, get in touch with the professionals at Uni-Span by phoning 1300 882 825.