As an industry, we all work to tirelessly to improve scaffolding safety. Often, the emphasis is to improve safety measures for those tradespersons working at height. This is of course critical, and something we must all continue to do.
But our drive for improved safety shouldn’t stop there. We also need to ensure public safety when scaffolding in pedestrianised areas.
We’re all used to seeing scaffolding erected on our high streets and around busy roads when building or repair work is taking place. This creates plentiful of risks for pedestrians, and there are unfortunately numerous examples of members of the public being injured thanks to inadequate measure in place to keep them safe.
For example, in 2011, a self-employed scaffolder was fined after a member of the public suffered head injuries from walking into an unguarded metal pole. It soon became clear that members of the public were not excluded, or in any way actively discouraged, from using the pavement in a pedestrianised area beneath a work zone.
Furthermore, in 2015, a pedestrian suffered serious injuries after being hit on the head by scaffolding which had fallen from a building site in north-west London. And then in 2017, a scaffolding company was fined over £160,000 after a scaffold clip fell approximately 20m and hit a member of the public walking below. He sustained numerous cuts to his head and face, a broken nose and severely bruised skull.
As an industry, it’s clear we need to work harder to improve public safety when scaffolding in pedestrianised zones. The question is: how do we go about this?
Scaffolding safety on the ground
The most obvious risks scaffolding presents to the public is on the ground level.
Firstly, there are usually scaffold tubes placed on and around the pavement, which present a clear hazard for those walking or driving in the area. It’s important that scaffold tubes are easy to spot, and if somebody does accidently bump into them, there are measures in place to prevent injuries.
That’s where BIGBEN® Scaff’Foam can help. Scaff’Foam is essentially a heavy-duty and brightly coloured foam that is wrapped around scaffold tubes on the ground level. The purpose is to protect members of the public from serious injury by cushioning the blow, and making them highly visible.
Protruding tubes and fittings can also pose a risk, and it’s important to implement safety measures to make the threats visible. Scaffold Tube End Caps and Fitting End Caps prevent injuries to members of the public by creating a visual deterrent to ensure the risk is clear and obvious, as well as ensuring those sharp edges are covered.
Protecting the public from threats above
Although measures and deterrents should be in place to prevent the public from accessing the upper levels of a scaffold, they can still be at risk from the activities that take place overhead.
It’s an unfortunate truth that objects falling from height is one of the biggest causes of on-site injuries and deaths. Often, that could be down to human error, i.e., a dropped tool. To improve safety measures, tethered tools are becoming significantly more commonplace. Effective tool tethering is a reliable way to protect those below, especially in pedestrianised areas. It ensures that if you drop a tool such as a spanner or a hammer, it won’t fall to the ground below.
But dropped tools aren’t the only concern. What about a scaffold fitting or something similar? To reduce the possibility of anything reaching the ground below, it’s recommended to use debris netting to break the fall. Alternatively, you could set out exclusion zones so the public cannot physically access the areas where dropped items are a concern.
DO NOT ENTER – Preventing unauthorised access to scaffolds
While falls from height are still one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities and injuries, of increasing concern are falls from height following unauthorised access to ladders and work areas by the public, especially children. Such instances often result in major injuries, so it’s imperative we do as much as we can to prevent unauthorised use of ladders by the public.
When using a ladder on-site, it’s critical to ensure only those who are authorised to use a ladder are able to do so. Utilising a HSE compliant LaggerGuard ensures this, acting as the ideal deterrent against the public using on-site ladders.
Deploying safety signs is also important. In order to create a safe working environment for all, we need to be able to communicate important safety messages quickly and effectively, either to warn of work taking place overhead, or to advise of alternative footpath routes to ensure pedestrians can’t access areas with fall hazards
Together, we can reduce the risk of injuries to the public when scaffolding in pedestrianised areas. Explore Leach’s range of scaffolding safety equipment, or contact our sales team on 01432 346890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.