If you’ve ever been involved in the scaffolding business, you’ll understand how much importance is placed on safety.
Strict safety measures must be adhered to in every stage of scaffolding use; From ground inspections (to ensure that assembly is safe), each level of scaffold layering, right to when the project is complete and the scaffolding can be disassembled. Regular maintenance and inspection must take place to ensure that the scaffolding equipment is in good working condition. In Australia, harsh weather conditions also means that scaffold equipment can deteriorate quickly and it’s imperative that there is a continuous process of safety measures that are frequently performed on each construction site.
Other safety concerns with scaffolding equipment includes:
- ensuring that loading capacities are followed
- new risks and hazards are evaluated on a daily basis
- making sure that everyone using the scaffolding equipment is fully qualified and licensed.
Of course, hard hats, steel boots and all other basic safety equipment must be worn, but the biggest risk inherent in scaffolding is the risk of trips and falls. Not only are workers at risk of falling from the scaffold, but equipment and materials that fall from heights can also cause severe injuries to those below. To curtail this risk, it’s mandatory that two pieces of equipment are installed on each scaffold platform: handrails and toe-boards.
The purpose of scaffolding is to provide workers with a secure and balanced platform while multiple workers operate on the same platform simultaneously. As you can imagine, handrails are very important to decrease the risk of workers and their equipment from falling from the scaffold platform. Imagine walking down a steep stairway without handrails – it would be a scary experience and you could easily make a mistake and take a tumble down the stairs. The same applies to scaffolding, except rather than falling down stairs, the outcome could be much worse.
Handrails are installed for three main reasons:
- To decrease the probability of workers falling from the scaffold platform;
- To decrease the probability of tools, equipment, and workers from slipping or falling from the scaffold platform; and
- To decrease the probability of tools, equipment, materials, and supplies from being knocked off the scaffold platform.
Handrails must be installed on all three sides of the scaffold platform that faces away from the structure itself.
Along with handrails, toe-boards are also a vital safety tool that effectively reduces the likelihood of workers, equipment, and materials from slipping or falling from the scaffold platform.
Toe-boards and handrails work in unison by protecting workers and equipment, both at the top and the bottom of the scaffold platform.
With multiple workers and equipment being supported by the scaffold platform, it’s a common mistake for a worker to accidentally knock equipment or tools over the side of the platform. This causes a serious risk to both workers and pedestrians below. There have been countless incidents where falling objects have seriously injured people working below the scaffold platform. But since handrails and toe-boards have become a mandatory requirement, the amount of injuries have dropped dramatically.
The purpose of toe-boards is basically the same as handrails – to prevent workers, equipment, and materials from slipping or being knocked off the scaffold platform. The only difference is that handrails are located on the sides of the platform, while toe-boards are located at the base of the platform.
The bottom line is that safety should never be compromised during construction. While there is a lot involved in ensuring that the construction site remains safe and all risks and threats are mitigated on a daily basis, it is absolutely necessary to make sure that both the workers operating at heights and the workers and pedestrians below are safe from slips and falls.
If you have any questions or concerns about the safety protocols with your scaffolding equipment, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the professionals at Uni-Span who are experienced scaffolding specialists. Simply give them a ring on 1300 882 825, or you can visit their website for further information: https://uni-span.com.au/