White Card Information Update: Scaffolder Safety

Source: Elliott Brown

Workers engaged in work on, near or under a scaffold as well as those tasked with erecting scaffolding on construction sites are exposed to a number of dangers in the structures erection and for the duration of its existence on the site. It is vital that the people that erect the scaffold are trained and certified to do so.

Although work from any height above 2 meters is dangerous ad can present a falling risk, scaffolders can fall from incomplete scaffolds during their erection and dismantling.

During its erection and removal in particular, scaffolders face the risk of falling from the open sides or ends of the scaffold and in climbing from one lift of the scaffold to the next lift.

Risks Involved with Scaffolding Work include:

  • Scaffolding Collapse: There is the chance that scaffold will collapse and injure workers on the structure as well as under it. The collar locking mechanism on scaffolds can be a hazard if operators do not engage the lock correctly and we have seen a lot of incidents of this nature occurring. This type of hazardous locking system is being progressively phased out in favour of an adjustable leg that has a compression-locking device. This type of locking system engages when a weight is applied to the assembled scaffold this method is favoured as it will save collapsing of the scaffold under the weight of workers.
  • Erecting or Removing Scaffold: Scaffolding risks are presented by internal falls, that occur  during the placement or removal of scaffold plants, from the open sides or ends of the scaffold known as an external fall or when climbing from one lift of the scaffold to the next lift known as a climbing fall.
  • Falling:The risk that occurs most often when working with scaffolding is the risk of external falls. This type of incident has been reported more than most other falls from scaffolding so this is what we will discuss in this post.
  • Climbing: Another risk is presented when workers climb the scaffolding. Ensuring that an appropriate access system is in place can control the risk of climbing falls for scaffolders gaining access from one lift to the next, either in the form of a stairway or ladder access that is progressively installed as the scaffold is erected.  Employers should ensure that the practice of scaffoldersclimbing the scaffold framework is strictly forbidden as this is extremely dangerous and can result in serious injury.

The risks involved with scaffolding can be controlled or managed using a combination of techniques which involves  sequential erection.

The risk of external falls from the open sides and ends of a scaffold can be controlled by adopting the “sequential erection” method. According to this method only one-bay-at-a-time is erected, sequential installation of standards and guardrails or guardrails alone. This ensures that scaffolders are not required to walk further than one bay length along an exposed edge of a scaffold platform thereby reducing the risk of falling. Dismantling involves reversing the sequence. Fully deck each lift and use the sequential erection method to progressively provide access as the scaffold is built.

There’s a stack of useful construction safety articles here


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