Ultimate Guide to Scaffold Tower Safety
Scaffolding is used for the primary purpose of creating as safe a workspace for construction workers as possible. If they have access to a safe, stable scaffold, they are better able to work at heights with less risk of taking a fall.
One of the most common forms of scaffolding is the scaffold tower. These systems must be well-maintained, assembled, and used correctly to ensure that they remain as safe as possible.
This guide will go through the dangers involved with using a scaffold tower and provide tips on how to prevent them.
Why is Scaffold Tower Safety Important?
When it comes to scaffold tower safety, the primary concern should of course be your workers. Safely maintained towers that are used by trained workers, are key in preventing injuries when people are working at a height.
In addition to this, when workers are confident about safety, they can focus on their work. This increases productivity. Finally, there are regulations governing the safe use and construction of scaffold towers.
Is There a Difference Between Scaffolding And Scaffold Towers?
A scaffold tower is one type of scaffold. It is a portable, free-standing platform that can be assembled and disassembled to be moved to and from different work sites.
When you hire tower scaffolding, you put this together yourself, and can move it around your worksite to complete various jobs. This is unlike regular scaffolding which must be assembled by professionals, and tends to be fixed in place once it has been put together.
Scaffold Tower Regulations
You are responsible for ensuring that your scaffolding towers are certified according to European standards. They should be labelled with an EN followed by a number. As long as you obtain your scaffold tower from a reputable source, that should not be a problem.
Next, consider who is allowed to assemble the scaffold tower, and who should be permitted to use it when it’s built. PASMA provides scaffold tower safety training. Nobody should build or work on a scaffold without holding a certificate or card for the scaffold tower on which they will be working. There are many PASMA certified training centres across the UK.
Scaffold towers should be inspected after they are assembled, or just before they are first used. If they remain in use longer than a week, they should be inspected every seven days beyond that.
Further, if an event happens that could compromise the safety of the scaffold tower (a strong wind), then it must be inspected again. Use of a safety tag gives a visual proof to health and safety officers that these checks have been carried out.
Rest-assured that all of our scaffolding is manufactured by reputable makers. They comply with ENs and HSE guidelines as well. In addition to this, we provide clear assembly instructions along with color-coding to ensure that you can safely put together any scaffold tower that you hire.
Work at Height Regulations 2005
In studying scaffold tower regulations, you must also understand what is required of you under the guidance of the Work at Height regulations that were implemented in 2005. Here they are:
- Scaffolds must conform to standard configurations. If not, a competent person must calculate the appropriate custom assembly, and put the scaffold together in a safe manner to ensure it is stable, and used appropriately.
- You must follow the hierarchy of controls. This means that you must avoid working from a height by doing things such as using equipment with long poles. If you must work at a height, then you must use appropriate safety equipment such as scaffold towers to minimize the risk of falling. The consequences of falling must also be mitigated.
- Work from a height must be planned and organized.
- Workers who must work at a height should be appropriately trained.
- Equipment must be selected to mitigate risks.
- You must manage risks when working near or on any fragile surfaces.
- All equipment must be properly inspected and kept well-maintained.
Understanding Scaffold Tower Dangers
Here are the specific dangers you must consider when working at a height:
- Falls: This is the clearest and most obvious risk when working with scaffold towers. Your workers are most at risk for a fall when building or dismantling scaffolding, or when they are climbing to access the platform.
- Collapses: It’s very rare for a tower to collapse or fall over. However, when it does, the results can be lethal. Towers often fall when they are assembled incorrectly, positioned without stability, or struck by a vehicle. High winds can also be a factor.
- Falling debris: There’s also a danger of workers being struck by falling pieces of equipment or parts of the tower. This can lead to serious injury. Once again the risks of this are the highest while the scaffolding is being assembled or taken down.
- Manual Handling Injuries: These are injuries that happen as workers are carrying heavy items up to the platform to use. It’s important to take steps to mitigate this risk.
Safely Erecting And Dismantling a Scaffold Tower
Clearly, many of the risks are amplified when the tower is being erected or dismantled. That is why safety during these stages is a primary concern. You must pay close attention to details, and follow assembly instructions closely.
Also, ensure that you only use the pieces and hardware that come with your scaffold tower, and that all pieces are present.
Check the safety manual you receive, and adhere to the recommendations about safe working height. In addition to this, use all stabilisers and outriggers as advised.
Erecting The Tower
Be certain that you have a firm level surface to work on. Then, you can start assembling the scaffold tower. Make sure your locked castors or base plates have proper support. This is absolutely key in preventing accidents and serious injuries.
PASMA and the Health and Safety Executive recommend the advance guard rail system or the through-the-trap or 3T system of assembly. If you cannot use these methods due to your specific project requirements, workers should always wear safety harnesses.
The advanced guard rail system allows you to use a specially designed, temporary guard rail. This can be placed securely from below, and moved up the platform during assembly. This provides some fall prevention until you can fit the permanent guardrails.
The through-the-trap means of assembly places workers in limited risk positions as they install guard rails on higher platforms. In this case, the worker is positioned in the trap door of the platform above.
Here they can set up or take down the guard rail above them. Both of these methods ensure that workers never have to stand on an unguarded platform.
No matter which protection method you select, everyone working on the tower must be physically fit. They should be able to work at heights confidently. They should also wear hard hats or climbing helmets.
Consider stability as you construct your tower. Don’t exceed height recommendations. Install outriggers and stabilizers. Also, consider other risks such as hoisting items up the scaffold, or using rubbish chutes.
Consider securing the tower to a solid structure, and always double check that you are building your tower with a correct height to base ratio. Finally, obey the rules regarding weight specifications.
Dismantling The Tower
When it’s time to take the tower down, the same advance guardrail or through the trap systems should be used again. The person in charge is dismantling should be qualified.
Scaffold Tower Inspections
Pre-use checks and inspections should be done before any work is done using the platform. The person conducting these checks should be competent, and trained according to the Working at Height Act. Any risks should be determined and mitigated before the tower is used.
Once the tower is in place, it should be inspected at least once a week. Further, if there is adverse weather or any modifications are made, then another inspection should be undertaken.
Finally, all inspections should be documented. This documentation should contain information on who conducted the inspection, when it was done, and any issues that were found.
Scaffolding tags are not required by law. However, scaff tags are a useful way to mark equipment to inform users of its safety and usability.
How to Ensure The Safe Use of Scaffold Towers on Job sites
Once the scaffold is up, you must lock the structure into place by locking the castors. If the structure must be moved, it should be relocated carefully. Do not use a powered vehicle. Do not move the structure while people or materials are on it.
Next, you must take care to prevent public harm or unauthorised access. Maintain an exclusion zone, and enforce that with temporary fencing. When the tower is unattended, take away ladders and netting. Consider using security to prevent access.
If the risk is particularly high, you may need to remove the attractive nuisance altogether by dismantling the scaffold tower.
Keeping members of the public safe from harm can be difficult when working in public places. This can be accomplished by maintaining an exclusion zone around the base of your tower that is enforced by temporary fencing.
Climbing And Accessing The Tower
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to climb the tower appropriately. In most cases, there will be a built-in ladder.
Do not stand on any items while on the platform to gain extra height. Don’t climb the outside of the tower.
Equipment And Material Handling
Don’t carry materials to different platforms manually. Instead, use an installed rope and pulley system.
We are UK based scaffolding hire company that provides scaffold hire solutions for your construction project needs. We offer a range of different types of scaffold towers for domestic and commercial use, and all of our solutions are serviced and inspected thoroughly by our PASMA trained staff.
Top Scaffold Tower Safety Tips
Finally, take a quick look at our list of scaffold tower safety tips.
- Make certain you have selected the right scaffold tower for the job.
- Stop work the moment any problem is found. Contact us for assistance if you are unable to remedy the problem.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. Every tower should be delivered with an instruction manual.
- Place towers on a firm and level surface.
- Don’t exceed height recommendations.
- Mind any power lines or overhead obstructions. Avoid these areas.
- Don’t use the scaffold tower when the weather is bad.
- Ensure that workers have proper training, use safety equipment, and take frequent breaks.
For more information, get in contact today on 0845 154 3907.