When it comes to working on any site, safety should always come first but extra attention must be paid when working at height. A great way to prevent a fall is by using a scaffold tower.
According to the HSE’s annual Health and Safety at Work for Great Britain report, there were over 5,000 injuries caused in 2019/2020 as a result of falling from height. Falls from height also continue to be the main cause of fatal injury, accounting for 29 deaths last year alone, proving just how vigilant you need to be on site.
Key Points and Regulations
The type of scaffold tower chosen must be suitable for the work you’re about to carry out. It is essential that these towers are erected and dismantled by those who are qualified and competent to do so in accordance with the Working at Height Regulations (2005).
A PASMA qualification acts as proof of that competency. Many organisations provide training courses for this and ensure an employee knows about the potential dangers and precautions required during tower use.
All towers must be inspected following assembly and then at suitable regular intervals by someone who is qualified. If the tower is used for construction work, and a person could fall 2 metres or more from the working platform, then it must be inspected following assembly and then every 7 days.
If the inspection shows that it is not safe, you must cease work straight away and put right any faults. The result of an inspection should be recorded and kept until the next inspection is recorded.
- Hazardous methods of erection and dismantling – not following the manufacturer or supplier’s instructions for safe erection sequences, including any bracing requirements.
- The scaffold tower is assembled incorrectly – with missing parts such as platform guardrail. Towers can collapse if sections are left out.
- Misusing the scaffold tower – where a tower is moved with people or material on the apparatus, or in windy conditions.
- Ignoring safe workload – taking more people, equipment, or material than it’s explicitly designed to support. This causes a severe risk to the user and those surrounding the equipment.
Tips for Using and Moving
Never use a scaffold tower:
- In strong winds
- As a support for ladders, frames, or other access equipment
- With damaged or absent parts
- With incompatible components
When moving a scaffold tower, make sure to:
- Check that there aren’t any overhead power lines or other obstructions
- Inspect the ground. Make sure it is firm, level, and free from potholes
- Lower the height to a maximum of 4 metres
- Push or pull from the base only
We’ve also put together the below guide of essential scaffolding safety tips, so you can work in total safety.
- Build a stable base – When you’re building your scaffolding, ensure that you’re building on stable, firm ground. Never use bricks or building blocks to take the weight of any part of the tower.
- Install a guardrail – It’ll mean a slightly longer set up but installing a guardrail will prevent anyone from accidentally stepping or slipping off the edge of the platform.
- Adopt a three-point grip – Climbing ladders can be dangerous, so always ensure that you’ve got three points of grip when you’re climbing your scaffolding. That can be two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot, but three points of grip are absolutely vital.
- Invest in the right footwear – It should go without saying but climbing on top of scaffolding without the right footwear is exceptionally foolish. Strong, sturdy safety boots are required when working, to ensure proper footing and, therefore, great safety.
- Always wear a safety helmet – Never be without a safety helmet when using a scaffold tower. Ensuring the correct procedures and health & safety requirements are adhered to is vital but accidents can always happen, a safety helmet can help to reduce any injury.
- Organise your tools carefully – Keeping tools on the floor next to you might be convenient, but it can also be extremely dangerous should you trip on them or accidentally knock them off. That’s why we recommend either investing in a dedicated tool tray, to keep your tools within arm’s reach but away from your feet.
- Replace old scaffold tower – The longer the scaffold tower is in use, the higher the chance that your scaffolding will fail. We’ve seen everything from cracked steel to cupped base plates fundamentally compromise the safety of your scaffolding. That goes for both professional and domestic scaffold towers so don’t hesitate if you need to buy a replacement. See our fantastic range of scaffold towers professional scaffold towers.
For more information on scaffold towers, check out our blog – Scaffold Towers: Everything you need to know!