Well, there are various types of scaffolding available on the market; however, the most extensively used scaffolding on the construction sites and in manufacturing applications is the fabricated ‘Modular Frame’ type that can be assembled swiftly, providing adaptability for an array of heights and tasks. In this informational content, our spotlight will be specifically on frame scaffolds even though a great deal of the information may also apply to other scaffolding types.

Begin with the appropriate training :

The safe and secure use of scaffolds requires that they are set up, moved, dismantled and maintained in the right way. However, it is equally important that the workers who execute tasks on the scaffold completely identify scaffold safety procedures that are most appropriate. Through obligatory training, these needs can be handled - this is known as Competent Person Training. Under safety regulations, a competent person is accountable for supervising and coordinating scaffolding. The training for workers who actually use scaffolding and scaffolding accessories must revolve around the right use of the scaffold as well as handling materials and tools in the right way when working on it. Through training, knowledge should be imparted to them about load ratings and how it may affect their tasks along with crucial fall protection equipment and other risks like electrical wires. Whenever significant alterations are made to the scaffold’s structure or to the tasks that are being carried out, training must be updated.

Sticking to the instruction :

By sticking to the instructions, some occurrences involving scaffolds can be averted. At times, workers can get so familiar with scaffolds that they make the error of assuming that all systems and applications are the same; however, in reality, that is not the case. For instance, sometimes workers swap components from altogether different manufacturers when they could not get the part they are looking for. Although scaffolds may be plain structures, each system is engineered in a different way. Using a part from another system or manufacturer may mean that the scaffold doesn’t have its complete structural integrity. If you’re fortunate enough, it may just be a little wobbly; however, in the nastiest case, it could fall apart. If the manufacturer does not specify, ‘the parts are compatible and can work together’, never combine them.

The thumb rule for scaffolds is that they will become unsteady once the overall height reached is fourfold than the length of the shortest base part and this only applies when the scaffold is appropriately assembled, has been positioned on the right base and examined. Going over that limit even for a reasonably short task is like welcoming trouble. Never forget that intense weather conditions may forbid the use of an otherwise secure scaffold. At all times, scaffolds should be set up on a solid foundation. Depending upon the surface’s condition, mudsills or base plates should be used. The scaffold will be intrinsically not safe if you use a rough or uneven surface or a mobile equipment piece that has not been meant exclusively for support. All bracing should be accurately installed and secured so that it won’t become loose. Above all, scaffolds should be installed or altered with the guidance and direction of a competent person only. Suppose, any scaffolds that are over 125 feet in height over the base should be planned by a professional (registered) engineer, reflecting the added risks and structural pressure involved with such heights.

Risks should be taken into account :

The risks associated with the use of scaffolding differ depending on the type of tasks that are being performed as well as the environment in which operations are carried out. Normally, falls are considered as the greatest hazard so guardrails or some kind of fall-protection equipment are needed on scaffolds, which are at least 10 feet above the ground level or the next level. Most of the scaffolds are made out of metal parts, so their closeness to live power lines may generate a danger from electrocution, particularly when workers are making use of metal strapping or tools. Overhead lines and equipment may cause a risk for head injuries. Weather conditions can produce risks on scaffolds that are used outdoors or that may be open to the elements like in partly completed buildings. A hazard for skips and falls may be created when the platform becomes wet. One impending area of risk that workers may not take into account at all times is their access to and from the scaffolding. A greater probability lies for slips and falls when workers are either climbing up on the scaffold or getting down from it. If detachable ladders are the access mode, then they must be made exclusively for the scaffold and placed in such a way that they do not allow the scaffold to tilt. Ladders with stair-styled steps should provide handrails, have treads that reduce slipping probabilities and should rest platforms.

Tagging system is essential :

The competent person on a site is also responsible for giving out instructions to workers as to whether the scaffold is safe to work on. The most familiar method requires fixing one of the three colour-coded tags to the scaffold. Normally, three types of tags are used and they are yellow, red and green coloured tags.

  • A yellow-coloured tag conveys to the workers that the scaffolding is safe to use but only under certain conditions; for example, a yellow tag is there to remind workers that they can use the scaffold if they’re using sufficient fall protection. The yellow tag can also be placed to warn the workers concerning particular trip hazards on the specific scaffold section.
  • A red-coloured tag cautions that it is not safe for its intended use as either it’s being installed and erected or there is an issue with the environment/surroundings or scaffolding.
  • A green-coloured tag denotes that the scaffold has been checked and is safe for the proposed use.

Examine and re-examine :

One of the competent persons most important obligations is to examine the scaffolding at least once every day, and often when it is required - for instance, during changing weather conditions. The examination should consider the activities that will be carried out on the scaffold on that particular day, confirming that the scaffold will facilitate a safe place from which work can be performed. It should take into account the work platform itself and the reliability of the whole structure. If a work environment comprises multiple shifts such as a manufacturing plant or petrochemical refinery, a competent person should be there for every shift and should perform his/ her own inspection for assisting workers on that shift. In case, a red or yellow tag from the preceding shift is observed, the competent person should pay special attention to tag’s reason to decide if it is still required.

Admire scaffolding intricacy :

Though scaffolds may appear to be plain structures, they comprise intricate engineering and the most favourable interaction of a range of divergent capabilities. That’s the precise reason companies design and build them spending greatly on engineering and so it is imperative to make sure that the people who are delegated to supervise them on job sites obtain sufficient training. Honouring the intricacy of scaffolds and making sure that all employees involved in their setup-erection and use are appropriately monitored will have a remarkable impact on lowering the number of injuries as well as equipment damage caused by scaffolding accidents. This indicates a modest investment in the form of ‘extra attention’ can reap substantial dividends.

Bottom Line :

Being mindful of the scaffolding risks and sticking to the right scaffolding processes to lower risks, will get rid of the odds for problems and injuries. And one more thing, always buy high quality scaffold accessories to decrease the number of accidents.