Scaffolding Course

Scaffolding Best Practice

In this article we highlight the hazards involved in working on scaffolding and the associated safety measures that help keep you and your colleagues safe.

VIEW ALL ARTICLES

VIEW ALL CONSTRUCTION COURSES

VIEW SCAFFOLDING AWARENESS COURSE

SCAFFOLDING ENVIRONMENT

Proper scaffolding safe work practices begin when the scaffold is getting built. Consideration must be given to protecting employees working near the structure, as well as the general public.

The structure must be protected from being struck by vehicles or machinery.

So, barriers and signage should be used to prevent people and vehicles encroaching upon the scaffold area.

Before you work on any type of scaffold, there are a range of environmental hazards to consider that are associated with scaffolding.

These are:
• ground conditions
• the presence of nearby power lines
• traffic
• and chemical or hazardous substances

Any risks should be identified, and risk assessed.

DROPPED OBJECTS

Any items dropped from scaffolding puts colleagues and perhaps the public in extreme danger.

The main tools you are likely to use in scaffolding construction include:
• Scaffold spanners
• Podger hammers, and
• Spirit levels

Items must never be thrown. Scaffolders must pass all tools and items either hand-to-hand or use other means to raise or lower equipment safely.

Tool lanyards must be used to secure tools whilst they are being used.

Nets are often used in urban area to catch any falling debris or dropped objects.

So, barriers and signage should be used to prevent people and vehicles encroaching upon the scaffold area.

Before you work on any type of scaffold, there are a range of environmental hazards to consider that are associated with scaffolding.

These are:
• ground conditions
• the presence of nearby power lines
• traffic
• and chemical or hazardous substances

Any risks should be identified, and risk assessed.

FALL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT

The main risk while working on scaffolding is falling from height.

While constructing or dismantling a scaffold you must wear fall protection equipment. This consists of a full body harness and lanyards.

The harness has straps that fit securely around your shoulders, legs and body. It is designed to support your full weight and minimise injury in case you fall.

Lanyards are used to attach the harness to the scaffold or any secure point above the wearer. Connection must be maintained at all times and twin lanyards used where applicable.

If you are required to use fall protection equipment, you must be trained in its use.

You are responsible for inspecting the equipment before each use and any equipment that is excessively worn or damaged must be replaced. Any lifelines, harnesses or lanyards that have been used to stop a fall must be destroyed.

A competent person must fully inspect equipment at least once every six months to ensure it is safe.

ADDITIONAL PPE

Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, must be worn while on site. And especially on scaffolding.

Appropriate PPE might include:

• Steel toe capped boots
• Fire-retardant, long sleeved coveralls
• Appropriate eye protection
• Gloves
• And a Hard hat

You are responsible for inspecting the equipment before each use and any equipment that is excessively worn or damaged must be replaced.

SCAFFOLDING TRAINING

Employers must ensure only staff that are competent are allowed to work on scaffolding. This means they have received appropriate training for the duties they are undertaking.

Echo3 offer an accredited online Scaffolding Awareness training course.

SAFE ACCESS TO SCAFFOLDING

All work platforms and scaffolding need to be accessed and exited safely. There are a number of methods that will allow you to do this.

These include:
• Existing floor levels
• Ramps
• Stairways
• Ladders
• Personnel hoists
• Temporary access ways or stair systems
• And, Portable ladders

It’s important that access routes and platforms are kept clear of objects and debris at all times to help prevent trips.

If stairs or ladders are installed, then trap doors should be fitted to prevent falls down open stairs or ladder-ways. If trap doors are not available, then swing gates should be installed.

Vertical access ladders may not need a ladder cage if there are rest platforms at intervals of 6 metres or less.

SCAFFOLDING TAGGING PROCEDURE

To ensure the highest level of safety during the construction of a scaffold, a scaffold tagging system is used, otherwise known as Scafftag.

Scafftags are not strictly a legal requirement, however they provide a clear inspection trail giving integrity and control of all work carried out on scaffolding.

The Scafftag consists of a holder and an insert. The holder is securely fixed to the scaffolding, close to the access point. When the holder is empty, it displays a red ‘DO NOT USE SCAFFOLD’ sign.

When the scaffold has been inspected and considered safe to use, the green insert tag is signed and dated by the Scaffolding Inspector and placed in the holder.

The Scaffold Inspector must inspect the scaffold every 7 days.

If safe, the Scaffold Inspector signs and updates the green Scafftag. If it is found to be unsafe, the green tag is removed leaving the red ‘DO NOT USE SCAFFOLD’ tag displayed.

SCAFFOLDING INSPECTION

Inspection of scaffolding is an important part of the scaffolding work process.

It is the responsibility of the Scaffolding Foreman to check the integrity of the structure daily to ensure that it is safe. This must be clearly indicated on the Scafftag.

The scaffold must also be fully inspected by a qualified Scaffolding Inspector or other nominated competent person every 7 days and the Scafftag should be updated at that time. Results from all inspections must be recorded on the Scaffold Inspection Form.

Scaffolds must be inspected immediately after high winds, impacts or modifications and the results recorded before the scaffold is used again.

At a minimum, the following components must be checked when conducting a scaffold inspection:

• Planks
• Ties and braces
• Hand-rails
• Kick boards

Other aspects to check are the board/plank spacing, the opening and access points, subsidence, traffic damage and crane damage.