Keep off the Scaffold! Part One

Keep off the Scaffold! Part One

10th October 2018

The UK Health and Safety Executive recently issued a safety alert highlighting the importance of making sure that suitable measures are in place to prevent members of the public, especially children, from climbing scaffold ladders.  The Safety Bulletin was issued in July in order to raise awareness among the construction industry, scaffolding companies and scaffolding suppliers.  The key issues described in the Bulletin are as follows:

  • The security of a construction site (including ladders and scaffolding) is essential to prevent unauthorised access to scaffolding, work platforms and other access equipment.
  • Falls from height from access equipment and unfinished buildings following unauthorised access often involve children and result in major, sometimes fatal injuries.
  • Access points may be designed or opportunistic and all such routes should be secured by a combination of perimeter fencing, local fencing, the removal of ladders during non-working hours, or securing ladders via a suitable ladder guard to prevent access.

When it comes to ladder guards, the HSE Safety Bulletin recommends:

  • They must be locked or padlocked in place (tying with a rope is not acceptable).
  • They must render each rung unusable (no more than 50mm of run should be exposed when the guard is pushed sideways).
  • They should cover at least 6 rungs (this means that they should prevent a foot being placed on at least 5 rungs).
  • The ladder guard should not be able to slide over the ladder stile and expose the rungs, nor should they be able to tilt or pull away from the ladder – rungs should not be exposed at the front or be climbable from the rear.
  • Any carrying slots should be vertical (along the axis of the guard), rather than horizontal and usable as a foothold.
  • Any handles on the guard should not provide an alternative foothold.
  • Guards should be matched to specific ladders and not used on others.  For instance, a narrow guard is only suitable for a narrow ladder – if used on a wider ladder it could expose enough rung width to enable the ladder to be climbed.
  • Fabric versions are not suitable for use in public places, nor for external use in areas that may be accessible by the public, or for internal public spaces that are understaffed.

The Bulletin focuses mainly on the use of perimeter and local fencing, the removal or ladders and the use of ladder guards.  A full site risk assessment should also carefully consider a raft of controls to prevent or deter access, such as the use of:

  • CCTV
  • CCTV with active monitoring to detect unauthorised access
  • CCTV with active monitoring an loudspeakers enabling remote security monitoring and verbal intervention
  • Security personnel either based on site or making regular patrol visits.

Next week we’ll take a look at some of these deterrents in more detail.  Make sure you catch the advice by following us on Facebook or Twitter.