Scaffolding and ladder safety on a construction site.

Published: 17th October 2011
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Through being a no win, no fee accident at work legal firm, we come across many injured claimants who have hurt themselves on a badly managed construction site. A large proportion of construction accidents occur due to people falling from scaffolding or ladders. As a way to lessen the risk of injury, there are a lot of steps that employers might take to enhance building site safety, especially in regards to working on a scaffold or from height using ladders.

Ladders and stepladders should be the last option for a construction site worker. Basically, it is best to explore whether scaffolding or similar would be more appropriate and indeed safer to use. If ladders must be used, then employers must assess the risks associated with any particular task. Anyone with a ladder in the workplace must receive appropriate training and be competent in the job they are doing.

The ladders used for the work must be exempt from any defects and be fit for purpose. You must secure the ladder against a solid surface rather than on fragile, unstable ground. The ladder should be secured towards the top and bottom in order to avoid it slipping sideways or otherwise moving from its fixed position.

Try to avoid climbing to the top of the ladder, in reality, if you have to use the top three rungs, then the chances are that the ladder is too short for that task you are hoping to finish. If at all possible try to make sure that the ladder extends at least a metre above the landing place or perhaps the point at which you plan to carry out the job.

It's worth noting that through a four-year period, the Health and Safety Executive recorded 36 deaths as a result of people falling from ladders.

Scaffolding safety is an area that will need much consideration on the part of the site management. Any scaffolding which is erected, has to be constructed by competent people. All sections have to be secured with base plates. The framework must include guard rails and toe boards to prevent workers from falling. The wood boards must be flat and then any walkways hazard free. Consequently there should be no raised edges or gaps within the scaffolding structure. You will need effective barriers and warning notices in place to prevent people using a scaffolding section that might be incomplete or unsafe. The scaffolding itself is required to be sufficiently strong enough to handle the heaviness of materials and also the weight of the workers that are making use of it. If any sections of the scaffolding have wheels then those wheels must be locked when the platform is in use. Always follow the instructions offered to you by the scaffold contractors and ensure that staff are adequately trained constantly.

No unauthorised person or member of the public must be able to access the site or the scaffolding area. Allowing access in this way, may lead to a prosecution against the site managers if any accident or injury occurs.

It is very important that all workers and each employer on the building site fully understands the hazards that exist in this particular workplace. You will still find in excess of 50 deaths every year in the United Kingdom caused by accidents on construction sites and so safety measures therefore should be enforced rigidly.

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