With the right safety precautions, scaffolding accidents can be avoided

No one should be put in danger when they go to work. Every Kiwi deserves to go to their place of work every day, to earn an honest living and to return home without any harm. It is the responsibility of their employers to prioritize their well-being above all else and to take all necessary precautions to ensure that all risks in their workplace have been mitigated.

Although this task is easier in some work environments such as office complexes, the challenge of creating a safe workplace directly correlates to its necessity. There are many construction sites which, by their very nature, pose a greater risk to those who frequent them. An example of such an environment is that of construction sites.

Working at height is one of the most dangerous aspects of any construction job and as such there are very strict regulations surrounding it in New Zealand. Despite this, falls from heights continue to be the leading cause of death and serious injury in the construction industry. That being said, it’s no wonder that poorly managed scaffolding practices pose a major risk to job site safety.

In Auckland, there have been several accidents involving scaffolding in recent years. Last month, an incident involving collapsing scaffolding shook the residents of Takapuna. The scaffolding would have covered a pool being worked on near the base of the Sentinel Tower located between Huron Street and Northcroft Street. At some point on the night of May 21, 2022, the scaffolding collapsed, plunging through the glass canopies and penetrating the roofs of the shops below. Residents of Takapuna woke up to a chaotic view of glass and debris covering the courtyard.

Although the material damage was extensive, there is a silver lining – no one was present at the site at the time and so no injuries were sustained. If the incident had occurred during the day while the work was being carried out, the consequences could have been much more serious. This is by no means an isolated incident. There have been other scaffolding accidents in Auckland in recent years, many of which resulted in serious injury or death.

Although the exact reason for last month’s collapse is unknown, high winds are suspected to be the cause.

Scaffolding is meant to provide construction projects with a safe and efficient way to work at height. Every New Zealander is well aware of our country’s erratic weather conditions, and if the correct safety procedures are followed, there is no reason for Mother Nature to have a potentially disastrous effect on scaffolding structures.

Following correct safety procedures with scaffolding is a necessity

When it comes to scaffolding, there are specific safety procedures that must be followed in order to avoid accidents.

The erection and dismantling of scaffolding is a complex process that requires the expertise of qualified professionals. This includes following correct procedures, having workers holding the correct certifications, and having consistent inspections performed to ensure the scaffolding is safe and ready for use.

Controls

Scaffolding should be inspected before it can be used and regularly thereafter. In New Zealand, three types of scaffolding inspections are required by law: before handover, before start-up and daily. A pre-handover inspection is carried out by the scaffolding contractor before the scaffolding is handed over to the client. A pre-start check is performed by the scaffolder before each shift, to ensure that the scaffold is safe to use. And finally, daily inspections are carried out by the scaffolders themselves during their working day, to identify potential dangers. These three inspections must be documented and signed by a competent person. The frequency of scaffolding inspections will depend on the type of scaffolding and its location, and this also applies to component inspections. By ensuring scaffolding is properly inspected, you can help create a safe working environment for everyone.

Read more: Scaffolding Inspection Guide

Work at height safety regulations

The very nature of using scaffolding is going to involve working at height. Any scaffolding over 5m in height requires personnel holding the appropriate certifications, qualifications and scaffolding tickets for any work to be carried out. These key personnel should know their safety responsibilities, including the use of any safety equipment such as harnesses. Safety precautions are further implemented through the use of planning and controls that are used to identify and mitigate hazards and risks associated with the job.

Additionally, scaffolding should be erected to include the appropriate safety measures, such as guardrails, handrails, man cages, outriggers, safety nets, and soft landing systems. The scaffolding itself should also have a base to height ratio of 2:1 to ensure stability, while still being assembled according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Read more: Height safety regulations

Scaffolding maintenance

In addition to being properly inspected, scaffolding must also be maintained. This is to ensure that all potential hazards are identified and rectified in a timely manner. All scaffold components should be checked for damage, wear and corrosion. Any damaged or defective part must be repaired or replaced immediately.

Read more: Scaffolding maintenance

South Pacific Scaffolding has an excellent safety record for scaffolding projects across Auckland

South Pacific Scaffolding is one of the leading scaffolding service providers in Auckland. They pride themselves on their commitment to safety, and this commitment has earned them their impeccable safety record over the past 25 years. South Pacific Scaffolding invests in its workers by providing ongoing training and skills upgrading to ensure that their services play a major role in creating the safest possible job site. Their strict and precise inspection and maintenance protocols allow them to provide some of the safest and most efficient scaffolding services in Auckland. Their team of trained professionals are always on hand to ensure your scaffolding is erected safely and complies with all New Zealand regulations. If you are looking for a quality scaffolding company for your next project, contact South Pacific Scaffolding today.

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Susan W. Lloyd