Working on scaffolding at height presents a fair number of security concerns, both to the workers on the scaffolding itself, as well as to the crew on the ground. However, by adhering to strict guidelines and ensuring the correct safety procedures are in place, a vast number of these concerns can be mitigated. This article aims to bring these risks to light and make a few suggestions on precautions that can be taken to avoid injury.
Falling from a height
The first concern that comes to mind when you think of working at height is falling from said height. As you can imagine, falling several feet (or in many cases, from several stories) can lead to severe injuries or can even be fatal. That is why safety harnesses and installing solid guard rails are essential. Another related risk is dropping tools and debris from height. It’s essential that a proper safety zone is established before work begins, and that the ground crew are also kitted out with adequate PPE like hardhats.
Improperly constructed scaffolding
Another major cause of injury when working with scaffolding is not setting the scaffolding up properly. This can range from not tightening the various screws and bolts properly, to not securing the walkways or planks, or simply using weak planks. It’s important to check the scaffolding properly before sending people up to work at height, and planks should be replaced as soon as they become too weak to support a person’s weight. Also, make sure that there is not too much of an overhang when laying the planks, since this can lead to an unstable structure.
Scaffoldings built on unsteady ground
One important point to remember is that no matter how secure you build your scaffolding, if the ground underneath it is uneven or soft, the scaffolding cannot be considered safe. This is why it’s important to not build scaffolding on grassy or muddy ground, or on a slope.
Building scaffolding too close to overhead electrical wires is obviously a bad idea, yet many people still do it, either through negligence or necessity. Due care must be taken to avoid workers getting electrocuted, either by cutting the power to the lines if possible, or at the very least, providing appropriate safety equipment.
The Effects of Poor Safety Measures on a Business
Poor scaffold safety measures can not only increase the chances of injuries and fatalities on-site, they can also greatly impact your business. Accidents and injuries on construction sites have led to WHS investigations, hefty fines and much worse, all of which have been known to cause a business to shut down. Having the required safety measures in place can certainly reduce the risk of this happening to you.
Financial Implications of Poor Scaffolding Safety Measures
Any business that is thought to have possibly breached safety at work regulations will be subjected to WHS investigations, which will look to uncover who was at fault for the accident and injuries sustained – if the business and employer is thought to be at fault, legal proceedings will take place which will eventually lead to payouts and other potential punishments.
Fines and payouts relating to breaches of health and safety regulations can be incredibly costly. One example of an incurred fine comes from a UK case in 2016, when an apprentice fell from scaffolding and sustained a number of injuries. The company involved was ordered to pay £100,000 in fines along with £918 in costs. Of course, there have been other cases where fines were much more significant as well as cases where they were not as severe, but this is just an example of how failure to operate with the correct safety measures in place can affect a business in the aftermath.
Furthermore, failure to comply with health and safety regulations by not having the correct safety measures in place can sometimes lead to imprisonment in the most severe cases.
In conclusion, there are many considerations to take into account when working at height. Fortunately, as you have seen, there are simple solutions that can make your life that much easier. If you’re looking for a reliable scaffolding company to partner with for your next project, get in touch with the experts at Stilcon Scaffolding for genuine advice and reasonable prices.