Scaffoldings are necessary for builders and construction companies to deliver on their specified project.
Without these structures in place, creating homes, units, office buildings and any indoor facility becomes prolonged where costs escalate and all parties are left unsatisfied.
For the sake of the economy both at home here in Australia and for projects abroad, this is a fundamental practice that must be upheld.
However, for all the imperative reasons and rationales behind the scaffold, there are clearly defined risks and hazards that present themselves for workers on location.
This places the onus back on construction companies and government officials to ensure that the practicalities, guidelines and workplace laws are in sync with modern day construction demands.
To avoid injury or death and to keep these matters out of the hands of law firms, each and every stakeholder in these instances need to undertake their due diligence.
Here we will outline the dangers involved in this practice to illustrate what can go wrong when that diligence is not executed correctly.
Below Par Safety Equipment
There is no question at all that scaffoldings are undermined by safety equipment that is below industry standard. From handrails to harnesses and nets that are in place in case of a fall, these are measures that are implemented by certified building operators to allow developers to carry out the project in good time. Accidents occur when this equipment is either not present on location or if there is damage or fault with the materials. Safety checks and balances must be implemented in this regard by a site manager prior to the operation commencing and upon conclusion each day.
Items and Debris Falling
Scaffoldings can be installed from levels that venture to 40, 50, 60 feet and beyond for high rise buildings. Whilst this helps to drive efficiency where there is uniformity from one level to the next, this also poses a danger for workers located on the lower levels. When items or debris fall from this height, the gravity of the impact escalates. Should any hammer, nail, plank, bucket or electrical equipment drop, then those situated down below are directly in harm’s way. Even hardhats cannot prevent many of these items from doing significant damage to the individual.
There have been examples whereby scaffoldings come into contact with electrical wiring, both in outdoor structures and for buildings that are installing electrical infrastructure. Coming into contact with voltage of any level can be deadly and workers need to adhere to laws regarding their distance from power lines. Should these be compromised to any degree, major problems arise.
Given the fact that all scaffoldings are temporary structures, there are risks that they have not be installed correctly. Whether that is due to time pressures, environmental conditions or simple oversight, this places a danger of collapse.
This applies across the board for all scaffold formats, from patented to trestle, single and double profiles, kwikstage or suspended models. Without the weight being evenly distributed or the supporting elements being in place to leave a loose bolt around, then boards can be broken and workers can fall. The damage these scenarios cause can be irreparable.
Inclement Weather Conditions
The weather conditions can prove to be a major influence on the integrity of scaffoldings as mother nature from time to time causes havoc on building developments. Heavy rain, fog, hail, extreme heat and intense winds all play a role given the geography and environment of the season. To prevent dangers from occurring in this respect, managers must regularly examine the weather forecast and have contingency plans in place, including additional cover and exit strategies.