February 19, 2020

Safety tips when using scaffold towers

Scaffold towers are an important piece of equipment, utilised frequently within the construction sector and allowing people to work at height efficiently. Scaffold towers are relatively straightforward to assemble and can be quickly moved around, providing greater accessibility within a construction site.

That being said, making use of a scaffold tower does not come without its risks, particularly where the equipment has not been installed correctly or the proper safety measures have not been put in place. Continue reading as we discuss how to safely use scaffold towers in order to prevent accidents from taking place. 

What are the safety risks when working with scaffold towers?

Working at height from a scaffold tower can pose several risks, including:

  • Falling whilst at height – this includes during the assembly stage, or whilst utilising the platform;
  • Getting injured when assembling or disassembling the equipment;
  • Injury when lifting objects up the scaffold tower, particularly those that are heavy;
  • Getting injured when objects are falling from the platform;
  • Poor assembly, resulting in collapse or other types of accident.

Such risks are obviously much more likely to occur where the correct safety procedures cease to exist.

What safety measures should be put in place?

In 2005, the Work at Height Regulations were introduced, which specified how to safely assemble and use scaffold or mobile towers, in order to reduce the risk of injury.

First of all, a thorough risk assessment must be carried out, which ensures the work environment and equipment on the construction site are safe to use. This risk assessment needs to be undertaken by a person who has the correct training and practical experience to do so. 

Understanding how to safely assemble the equipment, as well as the working conditions necessary, how to detect issues with the tower, and how to eliminate the risks, are all essential aspects of a comprehensive risk assessment.

After proper risk assessment, the scaffold tower can be assembled. This should only be done by a competent individual, as per the Work at Height Regulations. Once assembled, a pre-use inspection, including a pre-check record document, must be carried out prior to anybody using the equipment to work at height. 

Moreover, any person working on or near the tower should also understand the safety procedures and risks involved, which means that adequate training is essential for the majority of site workers. Frequent safety checks should be performed and documented, to confirm that the scaffold towers remain secure and can still be used without possible risk of injury.

If the scaffold tower is no longer needed when carrying out work on the construction site, it must also be dismantled by a competent person with the correct training. 

The above regulations were put in place to reduce risks and prevent accidents from occurring when utilising scaffold towers within the workplace.

Aside from the legal obligations, there are several other safety tips which should be adhered to:

  • Always choose a scaffold tower that is most appropriate for the type of work you are carrying out.
  • The tower should only ever be used on a stable, level surface. It is extremely dangerous to attempt to use a scaffold tower on an uneven surface.
  • Do not work on the equipment when faced with extreme weather conditions.
  • It is important to follow the specific guidelines laid out by the equipment manufacturers when assembling and dismantling the towers.
  • Only purchase high-quality equipment from reliable, trusted suppliers. Quality is certainly more important than cost, especially when it comes to the health and safety of workers and the general public.
  • If, when carrying out routine maintenance and safety checks, a problem is detected, work should immediately discontinue until the equipment is safe to use again.
  • Ensure workers are fully trained, qualified, and are able to take regular breaks when working from height.

Towers and Sanders Ltd is a UK-based manufacturer of LEWIS scaffold towers, guard rails and podium steps. Contact 0800 043 2222 to discuss your needs.