In order to work at height on scaffolding, construction workers need to know what they’re doing. It is a job with obvious risks, and falls from height are still the number one reason for injuries or even fatalities at the workplace. As a result, there are strict regulations in place to make sure working at height is as safe as humanly possible and that people working on scaffolding know how to follow best practices.
With this in mind, it is imperative to make sure that access to scaffolding is strictly controlled. If a member of the public were to fall from height after making it onto your scaffolding it might cause all sorts of problems - not least for the injured intruder. There also needs to be safe access for the workers who ascend the scaffolding. In this post, we take a look at common access issues.
The HSE acknowledges that even if proper signage is put up in highly visible locations, and the risk of injury or death made clear, sometimes children may not understand. In a safety bulletin, they explain the problem:
“Children are particularly tempted to climb and every effort must be made to deny ready access onto scaffolds. The primary means of denial should be site perimeter fencing, but there may be a need for additional local fencing and routine removal of access ladders or use of locked guards or covers to make access ladders unavailable. Where unauthorised access has been gained the result is often a fall from height. This can cause life changing injuries and fatalities are not uncommon.”
As mentioned, fencing or a means of preventing entry is virtually mandatory in these cases. On larger sites in busier areas, this will mean a perimeter fence that surrounds the entire construction site or property, with a strictly-controlled point of entry. Additionally, this point of entry should be secured when personnel are not present on-site (at night, for instance).
Although every effort can be made to prevent curious children from climbing on scaffolding, it may be the case that other adventurous intruders cannot be kept out. Adults who are driven to climb on the scaffolding presumably won’t be deterred by a fence. In this case, it’s vital to ensure access to scaffolding is curtailed outside of working hours. Ladders and other access points should be removed and locked away at night. Just because an intruder has gained access to the construction site shouldn’t mean they are able to ascend the scaffolding.
If a ladder cannot be removed (for instance, if it is an unremovable part of your scaffolding access) you should use a ladder guard to disable access. If necessary, you can also set up perimeter fencing around any vulnerable or accessible parts of your scaffolding.
The best place to start is by performing a site assessment. This will take into account a variety of factors to help you determine the actions you need to take to make your scaffolding safe. These might include the site’s proximity to built up areas or residences, whether the site will be closed over weekends or for longer periods of time, and whether there are any security measures in place already.
If you’re interested in learning more about scaffolding, access and security requirements, get in touch with a member of our team today. We are more than happy to share our expertise and experience with you.