Scaffolding is a job that should always be left to the professionals. If you need scaffolding erected for a particular job you will need to be aware of some basics.
Always make sure that your scaffolding company is a registered company and that they employ a competent, properly trained workforce.
Basic checks that you can make to minimise any risks include:
- Checking the ground conditions. E.g. Is the foundation firm, and not soft? If scaffolding is erected on frozen ground, this might melt and begin to sink.
- Is the scaffold level and supported on proper adjustable stands.
- If it is a rolling scaffold, are the castors locked?
- Any scaffolding should be able to support up to four times its intended load.
- The platform will need to be complete front to back and side to side. Any planking or decking must not have gaps greater than 25mm (1").
- Toe boards and guardrails must be positioned on all open sides.
- All sections of scaffolding must be secured or pinned appropriately.
- Safe access to the scaffolding must be provided which avoid the need to climb over cross bracing. This may be a properly secured ladder.
- The front face of any scaffolding needs to be 350mm (14") from the workface.
- Electrical wires must be given the appropriate electrical safety clearance.
- All scaffolding must be inspected by a competent person before being used.
- If the scaffolding is over 3m (10') high, personal fall protection should be provided or the scaffold should have handrails over 950mm (38") high.
- Anyone working in the vicinity of the scaffolding or on the scaffolding must wear a hard hat (in the UK it is compulsory to provide head protection/ hard hats on any site).
- Scaffolding must be kept clear whenever possible and tools and equipment removed at night or when the scaffolding is not in use.
- Do not use scaffolding in adverse weather conditions like high winds or snow etc.
- If it is a rolling scaffold, employees must never be allowed to remain on the scaffold when it is being moved.
- A hoist should be provided to haul heavy tools and equipment up the scaffold.
Remember - these are only guidelines and are not infallible. Take time to familiarise yourself with local and federal laws. Use only qualified scaffolding companies who will be able to advise you.