'If you don't take steps to keep your employees safe when they work with scaffolding, you could be fined R50 000, spend a year in jail, or even both,' warns the Health and Safety Advisor.
Is that a risk you're prepared to take?
Certainly not! And that's why you can put up scaffolding safely and reduce the health and safety risks of your workers by using these steps.
Six steps to safely erect scaffolding
Step#1: Train your scaffold erectors. Your employees responsible for erecting safe scaffolds must know what a safe scaffold is to build it to the correct specifications.
Instruct all employees not to remove a single piece of scaffolding from a scaffold, as they'll change the design of the structure. This alters the load-bearing capacity of the scaffold and potentially renders the scaffold unstable.
Step#2: Get medical certificates of fitness for all your employees. All employees who work on scaffolding must have a medical certificate of fitness.
The medical examinations must be done by a registered occupational medical practitioner (not a GP!) and remember that the medical certificate is only valid for12 months.
Step#3: Provide safe access. Don't expect employees to climb up the side of the scaffold structure or use the scaffolding like a jungle gym. Instead, provide a ladder with trapdoors or a set of scaffold stairs for easy entry and exit.
Step#4: Set a load limit for your scaffolding. The scaffold must safely carry the load imposed on it. If in doubt, consult an engineer to work out the correct load limit. In addition, your load limit must be displayed on the erected scaffolding.
Step#5: Monitor the weather. This is important when the scaffolding is inspected, which you must do:
Step#6: Train your scaffold inspector. He must ensure the scaffold is built to specification and is safe to use. Your scaffold inspector must also instruct your employees never to use a scaffold unless there's a 'safe to use' sign on it and the scaffold has been inspected within the last week by the scaffold inspector.
Avoid facing criminal prosecution and having civil proceedings instituted against your company! Use these six steps to put up scaffolding safely and reduce injuries and fatalities when your employees work on scaffolding.
Get a sample inspection form and fall protection plan when you subscribe to the Health and Safety Advisor.