Scaffolding is an excellent alternative to the use of ladders. Providing a larger work area with greater mobility through a walking platform also suitable for keeping tools, materials, etc ready at hand, scaffolding can cut work times dramatically, as well as making working at height safer. Incorrectly positioned or assembled scaffolding may, however, be the cause of potentially serious personal injuries to those working on it or people passing by below.
Preventing scaffolding accidents
To prevent accidental injuries, it is therefore vital to position and assemble scaffolding correctly. While there are many different types of scaffolding, the following general guidelines should assist in preventing work injuries or injuries to the public at large.
The first priority is to ensure scaffolding is erected on level, secure ground. Base plates or mud sills will provide scaffolding with a more stable, secure footing. On uneven ground, it may become necessary to dig into the ground to provide a level base. Most set-ups also feature adjusting screws to level the complete structure. For surfaces on drastic slopes, leg extensions should be obtained. If the intention is to have a movable scaffolding, it is important to make sure casters are included in the set-up. Naturally, it is equally important to ensure the casters are locked when the scaffolding is in use.
Following manufacturer’s instructions, the scaffolding frame is basically assembled as follows:
- Lay out the scaffolding ends
- Lift first end pieces
- Attach the correct upper cross brace to this piece
- Repeat process with second end piece
- Secure cross braces to frame at opposite end (bottom of frame)
- Check scaffolding for stability
- Move scaffold into position, making sure it is secure and level
- Place planks by lifting them through the scaffolding’s bars
- Fasten planks securely using provided hardware
- Secure scaffold access using ladders specifically designed for the scaffold in use or stair-like ladders with treading and hand rails
- Attach guardrails, tie-offs and other fall protection to prevent falls from height
- Thoroughly inspect scaffolding to ensure all pieces are secure
To successfully prevent work accidents, scaffolding should be inspected in this manner every time the site is left or returned to.
Injuries by scaffolding accidents can range from minor cuts, bruises or abrasions to concussions, broken limbs and potentially life-changing or fatal injuries.
If you were injured at work, you may qualify for work injury compensation. Contact Accident Advice Helpline for advice on claiming compensation.