What Are The Safety Considerations When Using Scaffolds?

6 May 2022
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog

Scaffolding is widely used in all types of construction and building projects as a temporary structure that allows all types of repairs and maintenance work to be carried out on the outside of a building.

Because it is a temporary structure, it has to be erected and disabled each time it is used, which means that there are several potential hazards from a health and safety point of view that have to be taken into consideration and dealt with accordingly.

Scaffold hire

Anyone involved in the project where scaffolding has been hired to be used will have some responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone involved. This means not only people working on the scaffold but also passers-by, pedestrians and any employees who may need to access or depart the building.

The scaffolding hire will be contracted out to a specialist company that will have a designated person having overall responsibility for the erection and maintenance of the scaffold whilst it is in place.

This person will be required to hold the relevant type of high-risk work licence and ensure all relevant risk assessments and procedures are in place.

There are three types of licences required under WHS regulations, basic scaffolding licence, intermediate scaffolding licence and advanced scaffolding licence. Different licenses apply to different types of scaffolding work being undertaken.

Risk assessment

Before any scaffolding is put up, a proper risk assessment will need to be carried out on the building and surrounding land to determine potential safety issues.

The first and in some ways the most important thing to consider is the type of land that the scaffolding will be erected on.

This is likely either to be some type of concrete, gravel, pavement or grass. Potential weather conditions also need to be taken into account as to whether or not they will affect the stability of the ground, or the safety of employees working on the scaffold several floors high.

Most of the risk assessments will focus on the structure of the scaffold itself.

The specialist scaffolding hire company will be well versed in assessing the best type of scaffold to use, in terms of design, materials and other specific aids that will be used such as cranes, hoists or pallet jacks.

Scaffold structure

The scaffolding structure will need to be able to bear a considerable amount of load weight, and this needs to be the prime consideration from a safety point of view.

The foundation of the scaffold will bear most of the weight, hence the need for an assessment of the land it is to be built upon. There will be a significant difference in approach if the scaffolding is to be built on grass, soil or gravel as opposed to concrete.

The foundation will generally consist of a mix of sole boards and boilerplates upon which the rest of the structure can be built. Depending upon how many levels of working platforms are to be built into the structure, an assessment of a load of materials and people using the scaffold will determine how these working platforms are created.

Working platforms are normally considered to be either light duty, medium duty or heavy duty, depending upon the weight of the load. This will determine the number, type, construction and consideration of the wooden planks that are used at each level of the building. Look into a scaffold hire for more information.