According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), falls from height represent the biggest single cause of workplace fatalities in the construction industry. Interestingly, the proportion of incidents is significantly skewed towards smaller projects.
Over 60% of deaths from height work involve falls from roofs, ladders or scaffolding. As such, construction firms must pay particular attention to site safety when using scaffolding to avoid injury to employees or members of the public. Claims under the liability element of your Construction Insurance from these incidents can be significant, leading large losses and associated premium increases.
Safe Risk Management is Critical
The majority of scaffolding accidents on a construction site are caused by slipping, falls or being struck by an object from above. All of these incidents can be prevented by taking adequate precautions and risk assessment.
The HSE recommends that erecting and dismantling of scaffolding should only be carried out by competent and trained scaffolders. As such, building firms that do not employ scaffolding experts should look to sub-contract this element of the work to an approved firm.
TOP TIP – Make sure that you check sub-contractors Employers and Public Liability Insurance policy documentation carefully to ensure they have the correct level of cover in place, keeping copies of declarations and documents on your file.
Safety Tips When Working with Scaffolding
When working on or with scaffolding on-site, following some simple safety guidelines goes a long way towards preventing injuries from falls, slips or injuries from falling objects.
General Safety Tips
- To prevent slipping hazards, conduct a routine daily inspection to ensure that all walking and working surfaces are free from potential hazards. If you spot a hazard, remove it.
- Never move, dismantle or alter a scaffold unless under the supervision of a qualified person while doing such activities.
- Never move a scaffold with workers still on it.
- Keep scaffold loads below maximum capacity and remove your equipment when the scaffold is not in use.
- Be alert for bad weather. High winds and driving rain and snow can be dangerous when working at high levels.
How To Protect Those Below
- Always hoist up heavy tools, equipment and supplies, rather than carrying them up by hand.
- Use a toe board to prevent things from falling off a scaffold. If items on the scaffold are taller than the toe board, other systems, like debris nets, must be used to catch falling tools or materials.
- Always wear a hard hat when working on and around a scaffold.
- Never walk under or near the scaffold if roped off when work is being performed above.
Basic Fall Protection
To help protect you and your employees from potentially deadly falls, fall protection is needed when working at two metres or more above a lower level. It consists of either a personal fall arrest system or guardrail systems, depending on the job. If using a fall-arrest system, keep the following in mind:
- Always attach your lanyard to a vertical lifeline, horizontal lifeline or scaffold structural member.
- If you are using a vertical lifeline, make sure that you are fastened to a fixed safe point of anchorage, independent of the scaffold. This includes structural members of buildings, but not standpipes, vents, electrical conduit, etc. They may give way under the force of a fall.
- Clean and test your gear regularly and never tamper with your fall-protection system.
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