Keep off the Scaffold! Part Two - Fencing
Last week we brought you news of the UK Health and Safety Executive’s recent Safety Bulletin that stresses the importance of making sure that suitable measures are taken to prevent members of the public (especially children) from gaining access to and climbing ladders and scaffolding on construction sites. We described in detail the types of ladder guards that should be chosen, such as our own Ascent™ Ladderguard which is specifically designed to be:
- Quick and easy to install or remove from a ladder
- Supplied with an easy to fit hasp and keyed padlock (as specified in the HSE Safety Bulletin), with appropriate warning signs.
- Sized to fit the majority of ladders, permitting installation with a new Ascent™ ladder or retro-fitted to an existing ladder (providing the criteria on sizing required by the new Bulletin are met).
The Bulletin focuses on some key issues that we’re going to look at in more detail today. These are some of the methods that the Bulletin requires to be used in conjunction with ladder guards to provide extra levels of safety.
SITE PERIMETER FENCING
Where it is reasonably practicable to do so, site perimeter fencing should be used to prevent unauthorised access to a construction site. The fencing erected should be continuous and fixed firmly in place. Where the fencing changes form or butts against another structure, it must be secured to prevent a person from squeezing through a gap. If the fencing butts onto another structure, an assessment should be carried out to ensure that it does not create an intermediate climbing point onto scaffold.
Any gaps between gates and the ground, and between fixed and moveable fencing, should be minimised to prevent small children from climbing through it or under it.
Site security should be checked on a regular basis to make sure that perimeter fencing is maintained in good order and that there are no skips, plant, vehicles, skips, etc. stored or parked where they could be used by a trespasser to gain access to the construction site.
LOCAL FENCING TO VULNERABLE AREAS ON THE SCAFFOLD
The full length of the scaffold may been to be fenced at ground level (especially across sway bracing) and there should be no projecting first lift transoms or ledgers that could be used to climb. Scaffold fans, sheeting or lifts may also help deter access. In public spaces or occupied buildings with access to scaffold at several levels, fencing should be used to prevent access (for example on balconies).
Fencing should be installed as the scaffold is erected, lift by lift, this will entail writing this into the scaffold contract or having a separate contractor working with the scaffolding contractor.
If it’s not reasonably practicable to remove ladders at ground level or fit ladder guards out of hours, the area should be secured using padlocked fence panels. Where stair towers are used on the scaffold, access at ground and other levels should be prevented by padlocked fence panels – unless the stair towers form part of the planned public escape route. In such cases, arrangements must be made to stop unauthorised access but this should not interfere with evacuation in the event of a fire. Additional barriers or fencing should be installed to prevent climbing away from the designated fire escape routes.
Local fencing on site should be kept in place during working hours if possible to minimise activity at the end of shifts, so a lockable gate should be designed for this.