09 Apr Scaffolding In The Building Industry
To those unfamiliar with the word, scaffolding refers to temporary work platforms used to support workers or materials. These stands are usually made from lightweight metals or fibreglass. The number one benefit of scaffolding is in its positional advantage in enabling workers to get up close to the target area. It is widely used in building where repairs, construction or where general maintenance needs to be done. The complexity and use of these structures can vary depending on the scale of the work needed to be done.
Because scaffolding is designed to support workers and their tools, there are a number of dangers that may exist if procedures are not properly followed. Just because a platform has been erected does not mean it will properly support your weight if it has not been put together properly. Within Australia, building codes and workplace health and safety guidelines are created to ensure best practices. For a start, if scaffolding structures are correctly made, then it will remain rigid enough, so it is able to hold at least four times its normal weight. To keep placements securely fixed in position, braces and trusses are used which must be replaced whenever it shows signs of wear and tear or breakage.
Climbing up scaffolding is usually done with a ladder; however platforms of various heights can be created depending on the sections of work that need to be done. To maximise safety, braces are worn when travelling up and down ladders to secure the worker which becomes all the more vital depending on how high up you are.
Of all the accidents that happen with scaffolding, falling is probably the most common. And as common sense would dictate, this can be fatal at tall heights. Such accidents can also be prevented using guard rails and other safety nets. Responsible worksite officers should train on such measures, so everyone is clear on what to do when certain circumstances happen to do arise.
So are there other ways risks can be managed? Yes. Scaffolding can be inspected before and after use, and of course after erecting the structure itself too. Sometimes just a fresh set of eyes will pick up on something small you may have otherwise overlooked. The most vital point to check for is the footing. Even when it is correctly pieced together, if the footing is not stable, the structure will not stay upright properly.
In other circumstances, a risk may need to be controlled. With massive technological advancements, cranes and other mechanical machinery helps to work in conjunction with scaffolding to not only efficiently protect workers, but to efficiently assist in the building process itself. Of course control measures will always be implemented, such as wearing hard hats, high visibility vests, rugged clothing, and protective foot and eyewear, just to name a few.
In any case, the steps above outline the same basic guiding principles: substitute the hazard for something safer, isolate it from other people, and use engineering controls, possibly even machinery to mitigate risks as much as possible.
Actioning these logistics becomes more complex depending on the present environment, which is why isolation from others is the first logical step. Sometimes close proximity with passers is enabled depending on traffic flow and whether that thoroughfare is required.
If the decision comes down to you, choose to hire a quality reputable scaffolding company to best ensure the safety of workers. Companies that do so are often transparent and honest in their dealings meaning your any work they complete will be done to proper standards, so it is built to last.