RG Scaffolding

What is wrong with
Health & Safety in Scaffolding?

What is wrong with health & safety? Well, in a recently posted picture on LinkedIn, a temporary roof structure that had been erected over a busy pedestrianised London street was SO dangerous that amongst all the comments written under the photograph, a technical advisor for the NASC mentioned “Dangerous is an understatement”.

What is wrong with Health & Safety in Scaffolding?

Many people were concerned by the structure that an anonymous person contacted both Lewisham Building Control and the HSE, to report the structure as dangerous. However, despite giving a detailed report of the defects and how it could potentially collapse, five days later the HSE responded with, basically, “It’s not our problem”.

RG Scaffolding
What is wrong with Health & Safety?:
Working at Height

If you have significant experience of working at height, you would appreciate how dangerous it can be for scaffolders, who typically use the structure during long shifts and often work in extreme conditions that is both physically and mentally challenging.

 

It’s also true that some scaffolders, or construction workers in general are consistently treated appallingly here in the UK; often by professional bodies such as, HSE, who have little or no technical understanding of scaffolding and any understanding of safe-systems of work.

 

Coupled with a total lack of understanding and disregard for industry culture we have created a community where capable individuals are often ignored or belittled, and those with a little knowledge or understanding (usually by qualification) are often hailed as the experts.

Safety Harnesses

The use of safety harnesses used by scaffolders are often praised by safety professionals during standard construction operations, where scaffolding is present on site. However, those with any other knowledge would question why a scaffolder would need to deploy his/her harness, when erecting scaffold.

 

When you’re selecting a harness, it is important to make sure you choose one designed specifically for the proposed project. For example, if you’re carrying out electrical installations, you will need to combine fall arrest and positioning, in which case you would probably select a 5-point harness where the waist connections are used for positioning.

Harnesses generally feature webbing, side, rear and frontal D-rings, lanyard connections and adjustable waist and leg straps. Wearing the wrong type of harness or wearing it incorrectly, or not having anyone inspect it can lead to serious injury, or even death should a fall occur. 

Read here if you want to learn more on how important it is that a Harness must be examined or have anyone inspect it at all times.

What is wrong with Health & Safety?:

The Quality of Inspections

What is wrong with Health & Safety in Scaffolding?

There is a real issue with scaffolding inspections in the UK, and the truth is, there is no culture of scaffolding inspections not being carried out, however, there is a huge problem with the QUALITY of those inspections. For instance, scaffolds used as working platforms should then be inspected at least weekly and after any adverse weather conditions or any other circumstance which could impact the likelihood of a fall and serious injury.

If scaffolding that forms a working platform hasn’t been formally inspected in the last 7 days, then it shouldn’t be used until an inspection has been carried out. It’s also worth mentioning that there are some truly fantastic safety professionals, with both a mixture of scaffolding and non-scaffolding backgrounds. These individuals can be found at all levels of the industry in big and small companies, such as RG Scaffolding-Solihull based in Warwickshire.

Back to basics?

So, what is the problem? Well, it is simply not acceptable that scaffolding, as a construction industry, has become so advanced surrounding the safety systems used on site yet still lags behind in the most fundamental area – ensuring the initial design of a structure does not get erected with potential fatal flaws.

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