There’s no doubt that the construction industry poses some serious safety risks. Recent statistics published by Safe Work Australia has revealed that the construction industry is one of the deadliest industries in Australia, with the third highest frequency of fatalities and serious injuries. With scaffolding being such a key component of the construction industry, it comes as no surprise that stringent scaffolding safety measures needs to be incorporated to decrease the risk of injuries to workers and the public.
There are many scaffolding safety measures that must be implemented in construction sites to reduce the risk of injuries. Every day, new risks and hazards need to be identified to ensure that workers can carry out their jobs in a safe environment. Unfortunately, the most common cause of injury on scaffolding equipment is related to human error, indicating that the training of workers on scaffolding equipment is key to their safety. To give you a greater understanding about what you need to know and understand about scaffolding safety, we’ve created a list of the most important safety concerns.
It’s estimated that two-thirds of construction workers use scaffolding at some point during construction projects, so adequate scaffolding training is paramount. Only those workers that have the appropriate qualifications and training can make use of scaffolding equipment. There are many aspects of scaffolding where knowledge is required to safely carry out work on the structure. This training should encompass basic safety training, how to mount and safely move around the structure, load capacities, and the best ways to safely exit the structure.
Preparation of site and ground
There’s no question that preparation is the key to a safe worksite. Even if scaffolding has been erected properly, the state of the ground and other areas of the worksite near the scaffolding will have a significant impact on the degree of safety provided. Understanding all potential hazards and risks such as trees, shrubs, electrical wires, and other high-risk obstacles is necessary so they can be properly addressed and managed. If these obstacles can’t be removed, they should be integrated into the design of the scaffolding and assessed every day to ensure they are not going to present any risks to workers.
One of the biggest risk factors for any scaffolding equipment is exceeding the load limit. Load capacities must be understood and respected by all workers to ensure the scaffolding structure isn’t overloaded, which is one of the most common cause of injuries on scaffolding. All workers and materials can not exceed this load capacity, as only a few extra kilograms can cause the scaffolding structure to topple which clearly poses a grave safety threat. All workers should check the load capacity of a scaffolding structure before using it.
Fall protection must be implemented on all scaffolding equipment that exceeds three metres in height. Guardrails must be used on scaffolding structures to ensure that workers perform their jobs on a stable platform and the risk of falls to workers and materials is minimised. Guardrails should be implemented on all three sides of the scaffolding that faces away from the building, and there should be three rails on each guardrail: a top rail, a mid rail, and a bottom rail (toe board).
Inspections and maintenance
Scaffolding inspections and maintenance are integral to the safety of workers, as the weather can quickly deteriorate the ground and therefore the stability of the structure itself. Inspections should be carried after the scaffolding has been erected and before it has been used, along with inspections every seven days until the scaffolding is dismantled. These inspections should be performed by a competent person, preferably an engineer or someone who has been has been approved in writing by an engineer. Furthermore, working platforms need to be inspected routinely to ensure they are in good working order, along with checking the structure for any damage or corrosion.
Considering that working platforms are relatively small, particularly when there are multiple workers using the scaffolding at one time, it’s paramount that equipment and materials are organised on the working platform. It’s very easy for equipment and materials to be accidentally kicked off the platform, which presents serious safety risks to the workers below the structure. Workers need to be aware of what is around them when working on scaffolding, including materials, equipment, rubbish, and other workers.
Using the correct PPE, or personal protective equipment, is a critical safety issue when working with scaffolding. Protective equipment such as non-slip boots, head protection, and fall protection save countless lives every year on construction sites. Generally, each construction site will have unique risks and hazards, so workers will be advised on exactly what protective equipment must be used on site. Employers also need to actively enforce the correct use of protective equipment.
The weather plays in integral role in the safety of workers on construction sites. Not only does certain weather conditions deteriorate tools and equipment, but it can pose serious risks to those working at heights. Wet and windy weather conditions pose substantial threats to all workers on construction sites, so the weather must be closely monitored to ensure that the construction site remains a safe working environment for everyone.
While stringent safety procedures and inspections may cause delays at times, ensuring that all risks and hazards are minimised is a key component in providing a safe workplace. The safety of all workers and visitors of a construction site is the number one priority. Too many preventable accidents and injuries occur on scaffolding equipment, so adequate training, preparation, and inspections must be performed in conjunction with using the correct protection equipment and respecting load capacities.
At Uni-Span, we understand the importance of safety on construction sites and ensure all our scaffolding equipment and accessories meet Australian safety standards. We also offer engineering services to ensure that construction sites are as safe as possible. If you’d like to learn more about our scaffolding products and services, feel free to contact us on 1300 882 825, or visit our website for further information: https://uni-span.com.au