How to Erect Scaffold Towers Safely

If you need to use scaffold towers as part of your home improvement project, it is recommended to adhere to the HSE guidelines as if working on a site. Working safely with scaffold towers is both a legal requirement as well as a critical way of avoiding nasty accidents. Before undertaking work on scaffold towers, The Work at Height Regulations require that an assessment is carried out. This assessment should confirm that there is no alternative to working at height and that the most suitable equipment has been selected for the job in hand.

Scaffold towers are, when used correctly, a safe means of gaining access to work which is being done at height. They are used widely throughout Ireland. Where incidents can occur is when there has been inappropriate erection or the misuse of the scaffold towers. Numerous accidents occur because of these reasons but with the correct health and safety practices these are being lowered and can be prevented.

When erecting scaffold towers, the workers need to be aware that aluminum and the thin-wall steel towers are relatively light and can overturn easily with incorrect use. All parts must be in their correct place to ensure the required core strength. If sections are left out there is a good chance that the towers can collapse.

There are two approved methods which are recommended by the Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association, which have been developed in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive. However, all manufacturers also have the duty to provide the instruction manual which explains the erection sequence and this should include any bracing requirements. The same applies to any organisations which hire the towers.

The first approved method is an advance guard rail system, which makes use of guard rail units which are specifically designed for the job. These guard rail units are locked in place form the level below and moved up onto the platform level. They provide collective fall prevention and are put in place before the operator accesses the platform in order to fit the permanent guard rails. It is the progressive erection of guard rails from the protected areas at the lower level which makes sure that the operator will not be exposed to the risk of falling from an un-guarded platform.

The second approved method of erection is the “through the trap” method. It involves the operator taking up a working position in the trap door of the platform. From this position he can add or remove the components which are acting as guard rails on the level above the platform. This method is designed to make sure that the operator does not stand on an un-guarded platform, yet can install the components to a particular level while he is positioned within the trap door of that level.

All operators must be trained in the health and safety aspects of ensuring that the scaffold towers are stable. They must also be fully trained in the use of the towers, as well as knowing about moving the towers. Before use, the scaffold towers must always be inspected by a competent person. Additionally extra safety precautions need to be taken when the work is being carried out in a public place. Finally all operators should be trained in the dismantling of towers.

For more information, contact Alloy Access.

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