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Working at height

Working at height

Posted: Wednesday 14 November 2018


As any construction worker can tell you, working at height can be a daunting experience. Whether it's wobbling at the top of a ladder or stood on scaffolding, it's imperative to remember that you can't expect to work the same way you would at ground level. There's a reason that regulations exist to manage this sort of operation, falls from height remain the number one cause of death among construction workers. It's time to talk about the ins-and-outs of working at height, the rules you need to follow and the best practices to put in place.

Plan ahead

You should try to avoid working at height wherever possible—if workers can perform a task without the call for a ladder or scaffold, that's the way to go. It saves time, money, and the risk of injury, so it's worth taking the time to explore your options. However, sometimes working at height is simply unavoidable. In this case, make sure you plan out exactly where and how builders will be carrying out work. This will make it easier to determine what equipment will be needed.

You also need to decide who will be overseeing the work, and managing the team working. This kind of task requires efficiency and direction, because no one wants to be thirty floors up for longer than they have to be.

Breaking the fall

Dr. Julie Riggs of Phoenix Health and Safety explains that when working at height, it's very important to reduce the potential falling distance:

“Where using the equipment involves a risk of falling, additional measures to minimise the distance and consequences of any fall must be put in place. Prevent any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury, for example by using a scaffold platform with double guard-rail and toeboards. Equally importantly, arrest a fall with equipment to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall. Options include safety nets, where work at height cannot be avoided or the risk of falling prevented. Remember, whenever work at height accidents are investigated and employers are prosecuted, one of the most common findings is that the work was not properly planned and supervised.”

Collective vs Individual protection

There are two types of protection for people working at height. Individual protection refers to equipment like safety harnesses, which can be firmly attached to a worker and prevent them from reaching the ground in the event of a fall. Remember that a harness needs to be attached to something strong and immovable. The other type of protection is known as collective protection, and refers to equipment that helps keep all workers safe, rather just an individual. This might mean items like guardrails along all scaffolding.

Liability

Your workers' safety is your responsibility. If someone is injured, or even dies after a fall from height on your site, investigators will inspect the safety measures you did (or didn't) put in place. A recent case saw the boss of a roofing company slapped with a suspended jail sentence for making his employees work at height in unsafe conditions, among other crimes.

When used properly and responsibly, scaffolding can be the right solution for any job that requires working at height. To find out more, take a look around our site, or get in touch with a member of our friendly team today.

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When do you need scaffolding?

When do you need scaffolding?

Posted: Wednesday 7 November 2018


Working at height is a challenging affair, regardless of the size of the job. There’s a lot of moving parts, with equipment, materials and labourers all needing to be in the right place. Whether it’s a small loft conversion or a large-scale commercial building project, it’s imperative that construction workers and building professionals have the right support to get the job done quickly and efficiently. In this post, we take a look at the most common situations where scaffolding is required.

Ladders

There’s no doubt that ladders are a versatile and useful piece of kit. Yet, they are best kept for smaller-scale jobs, where workers will not be working at height for very long, or trying to move heavy materials and equipment. Window-cleaning and small roofing repairs can probably be achieved safely with a ladder, for instance. Anything larger, or on a longer-time period, will require scaffolding. It’s dangerous for builders to try and bring heavy materials up to the working level when standing on a ladder - even if there’s someone at the bottom holding it steady.

Limited access

If workers need to access difficult to reach areas, scaffolding will almost certainly be necessary in order for them to complete the work. This might be an inaccessible part of a roof or an outside wall several stories high.

Many straightforward jobs like painting the outside of a building will require scaffolding, simply because workmen won’t be able to reach the part of the building in question, even with extended rollers and brushes. In cases like this, scaffolding also allows for a much neater and efficient job.

Scaffolding is incredibly versatile, with a variety of modelling options possible, including free-standing options. This last type is very useful during the construction of new buildings, when there isn’t an existing wall to lean a ladder against.

Regulations and safety

Scaffolding may not just be necessary but mandatory for your project. Dr. Lisa Sharwood of the University of Sydney explains the danger:

“In the construction industry, 78 percent of spinal injuries were due to falls. These were predominantly falls from height...this study demonstrates that the construction industry is still experiencing a high burden of work-related spinal trauma, particularly related to falls, despite safety measures being in place. Increased local surveillance of safety systems and stricter enforcement of relevant legislation is needed to reduce risks and fall-related injuries."

Failing to adequately protect construction workers from falling injuries will mean you are held liable. It is far simpler to make sure that proper scaffolding is in place, assembled by experienced professionals, than risk someone getting badly hurt. In addition, it is wise not to imagine that a small scale job will not be noticed by officials should there be an injury - the government has made noises about cracking down on SMEs who do not follow the proper guidelines.

It can be the case that some try to avoid using scaffolding because they believe it will add time and cost to their projects. However, modern scaffolding can be assembled quickly if you choose a high-quality company, and prices are very reasonable - especially considering how much time you’ll save once the scaffold is up.

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Doing the heavy lifting - your guide to hoist and transport platforms

Doing the heavy lifting - your guide to hoist and transport platforms

Posted: Wednesday 31 October 2018


Whether it's a renovation, extension, house painting or guttering replacement, you should consider renting scaffolding to help complete the job. Working at height on a ladder can be a challenge, and will add time onto any project. Using a ladder will mean climbing to the bottom and then moving it each time an area is completed.

However, it also means that it's very difficult to lift equipment and materials to where they need to be. It's hard enough working two or three floors up to begin with, but add something heavy to carry and working on a ladder becomes downright dangerous. In this post, we take a look at your options when it comes to heavy lifting.

The differences

A hoist platform takes advantage of an age-old technology. It offers a versatility, so that builders and other construction professionals can pull material and equipment up to the working level. In essence, it is a wire rope hoist - sometimes fitted with a bracket to allow for a pivot. This means the load being raised can be moved from side to side or even through a 360 degree angle.

A transport platform is for heavy duty lifting, probably during a construction project, or a commercial enterprise. They're designed to lift all manner of materials, equipment and people to the level they need to be at, and can do so with great efficiency. What makes a transport platform stand out is its weight capacity, with some platforms able to lift over 2,000 kilograms in one trip. This could be the materials and equipment needed for a day's work, all transported at once.

Both types of hoist can come fitted with fail-safe brakes, to prevent the material being hoisted from falling all the way back down to earth. This could cause an accident, especially given the weight of equipment and the costs to repair or replace broken items.

Working at height

In commercial builds, it is often necessary to mix concrete on the floor it's to be used on—particularly in the case of apartment buildings or offices. For this reason, it's probably best to go with a transport platform, since you'll need to bring a cement/concrete mixer, as well as all of the raw materials for mixing, up 20 or even 30 floors. A hoist would be unsuitable, since at those heights it might be susceptible to swinging and hitting the side of the building. Additionally, you'd be constrained by the weight limits of the hoist.

Scaffolding needs may dictate whether a hoist or transport platform is suitable, since scaffolds do take up some space. In locations where room is at a premium, it may be necessary to stick with a hoist and lose time on a project to get it right.

If you're unsure of whether you need a hoist or transport platform, you should get in touch with a scaffolding professional. They will know exactly which solution is suitable for your needs and what extra precautions you'll need to take, including issues around workers' safety and protecting the public.

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House painting and scaffolding

House painting and scaffolding

Posted: Wednesday 24 October 2018


Although bungalows were once easier to find, their availability has become more limited in recent years. As a result, odds are you live in a house of two storeys or more. This increased height brings with it an extra challenge—how do you go about painting the outside of your house, especially the upper floors?

Many of us have difficulty accessing parts of our homes, with natural barriers like hedges or trees making it nigh impossible to even position a ladder in the right spot. It may be that scaffolding is required to complete the job.

Going solo

Many homeowners prefer to save money wherever they can. This means they will try to paint their own homes, both inside and out. But it can be a daunting task, as explained by Sunset Ladders:

“Maybe you're painting the interior of your home and you have walls that go up to 20 or 30 feet in height. A long ladder can be difficult to manoeuvre in and out of your home and won't provide the solid surface of scaffolding. When you rent scaffolding, you'll be able to bring it in one piece at a time and set it up where you need it.”

Ladders can also be difficult to use, since most people do not have much experience. Working at height can be disorienting and challenging. Adding a paint brush and a can of paint will make things even more challenging, with the added weight potentially unbalancing a novice.

Some people try to forgo ladders altogether, using an extension pole to try and paint the house from the ground. It's very unlikely that this would produce a satisfactory outcome, since it's nigh impossible to maintain accuracy and precision on the end of a three or four metre pole.

Adding scaffolding

One of the hidden benefits of using scaffolding it the enormous time saving advantage. When using a ladder, painters will be limited by their reach and balance. This inevitably means having to climb down and move the ladder, then climbing back up again. This repetitive task will potentially add hours onto any project.

There are also health and safety considerations to take into account. If you've decided to hire a painter or painting team, they will probably require scaffolding. If someone should get injured because they did not have the right equipment, it can lead to all sorts of legal headaches.

Scaffolding allows painters great access to every part of your exterior walls, meaning they're able to do a thorough job in a much shorter space of time. Painting needs preparation, it's usually the case that walls need to be cleaned, brushed, and treated before brush ever meets paint. This is a much more difficult task using a ladder and someone holding it steady on the ground.

For more information on how scaffolding could save you time and money when painting your house, take a look around our site - or get in touch with a member of our team today.

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How to renovate your home

How to renovate your home

Posted: Saturday 20 October 2018


Renovations often take place for two reasons. The first, is usually that the property is a fixer-upper, in need of a serious overhaul. The second, is when a homeowner decides on a refresher after many years of living in a much-loved property. Whatever the reason, knowing how to go about renovations isn't always evident. Read on, for our guidance on how to ensure your renovations go smoothly.

Getting the right insurance

Writing for @MyHomebuilding, Natasha Brinsmead lays out insurance requirements:

“Once you exchange contracts on a renovation project you become responsible for the site and you must therefore have adequate insurance. If you are taking out a mortgage to fund the project, your lender may not release any money without your warranty and proof of insurance being in place...Renovation insurance should include public and employer's liability, cover for building materials and works, plant, tools, temporary buildings, the existing structure, personal accident cover and legal expenses.”

Renovating a home can mean a lot of moving parts, with contractors and materials, tools and equipment all together on a build site. Having the right insurance will mean the project can proceed and you can have peace of mind in the bargain.

Planning design

Odds are that despite your enthusiasm, you don't have any formal design training. That's why it's an excellent idea to hire an architect. With experience of managing building sites and working with all manner of building professionals, an architect can help you through every step of the process. This includes recommendations of local builders they've worked with in the past, ensuring a level of quality and workmanship that might be difficult to achieve by yourself. Your architect will also be an expert when it comes to materials, and will find the best, budget-friendly way of carrying out any renovations.

Working at height

Your builders will need to work at height to complete any renovation, whether that's painting or something more heavy-duty. This means installing scaffolding. A high-quality scaffolding setup will keep the project on schedule and allow your team to perform their jobs well. However, there are a few different options available to you, and much of your choice depends on your specific circumstances.

How tall is your property? Will you be needing a temporary roof during the renovation? Do you have access to all sides of the property? These are questions you will need to work out the answers to before deciding on your scaffolding choices. If your property is part of a terrace or is semi-detached, you may want to opt for independent scaffolding that can stand by itself.

It will pay off to do some research into the company providing your scaffolding, particularly if there are external elements on the façade that you want to retain or improve. Try to find some reviews of the company by others who have used them, and speak to your architect. You'll also need to work out whether your house is a listed building or otherwise protected by regulations.

Photo © Hugh Chevallier (cc-by-sa/2.0)

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