Considering that the construction industry is one of the most dangerous industries in Australia, maintaining safety standards on construction sites is the leading priority for contactors. While productivity is paramount to the bottom line, the safety of workers should never be compromised and safety measures need to be clearly communicated to ensure all workers understand the appropriate protocols. Almost two-thirds of construction workers regularly work on scaffolding structures, so ensuring that scaffolding is safe and in good working condition contributes a great deal to the safety of construction sites.
Some of the leading causes of accidents and injuries related to scaffolding structures include falls from heights, falling objects, collapsed scaffolding, and electrocution. To minimise the risk of injuries to workers as much as possible, today we’ll be offering you a simple guide with our top 6 essential scaffolding safety tips.
Perform a risk assessment to identify hazards
Before any work begins, a comprehensive risk assessment should be performed to identify any hazards and control measures should be implemented whicheliminates or minimises the risk of injury as much as practicable. As work progresses on the construction site, new hazards may arise which presents new risks to workers and it’s vital that these risks are managed to ensure the workplace is as safe as possible. Contractors should follow the ‘Hierarchy of Hazard Controls’ system to eliminate or minimise the risk of hazards as much as practicable.
Regularly inspect scaffolding
Scaffolding structures experience heavy loads and high traffic on a daily basis so it’s paramount that scaffolding equipment is inspected regularly for any safety concerns. The structural integrity of scaffold structures are the foundation of worker safety so a qualified professional should inspect scaffolding after it has been erected, after any incidents which may affect its stability, after any alterations or repairs, and at least every 30 days since the scaffold structure was initially erected.
Ensure all workers are adequately trained and qualified
Under Australian Law, any construction worker who operates on or near scaffolding equipment must have the appropriate training or qualifications. Considering that most accidents and injuries can be prevented, it’s paramount that workers are suitably trained in all aspects of scaffolding including how to respond to emergencies. Workers who erect, alter, or dismantle scaffolding also need to carry their ‘High Risk Work License’ at all times. Workers must also wear the appropriate PPE including hard hats, non-slip footwear, goggles, ear muffs, and fall protection equipment.
Respect scaffold load capacities
One of the biggest scaffolding violations is failing to adhere to the load capacities on scaffold platforms. Load capacities should be clearly marked and workers need to be trained to check the load capacity before entering the scaffold platform. Different types of scaffolding structures also have different load capacities which highlights the importance of checking these limits. It’s vital to bear in mind that load capacities encompass workers, tools, and materials, and scaffolding structures can easily collapse if these load capacities aren’t respected.
Always use guardrails on scaffold platforms
Guardrails are a vital piece of fall protection equipment which must be installed on each scaffold platform when the scaffold structure is erected. Guardrails should be positioned on all three open facing sides of the platforms to protect workers from slips, trips, and falls whilst operating on scaffolding. Any scaffold platform that exceeds two metres in height should have a top rail, mid rail, and toe board installed to minimise the risk of falling from heights.
Keep the workplace organised and tidy
While scaffold platforms are designed for several workers to be operating at once, it can get rather cramped with all the necessary tools and materials. To minimise the risk of slips, trips, and falls, tools and equipment should be organised on a working platform as much as practicable. In addition, an untidy platform makes tools or materials vulnerable to being kicked off which presents safety risks to workers below the platforms. This is why workers need to be aware of their surroundings at all times when operating on scaffolding structures.
Scaffolding safety is a continuous process which requires constant attention throughout the duration of a project. Through communicating safety protocols, adequate training, and regular risk assessments and inspections, the risk of accidents or injuries will be minimised as much as possible.
If you require any further information relating to scaffolding safety, reach out to the professionals at Uni-Span by phoning their staff on 1300 882 825.