by Frederike Berg
FAQ's on risk assessment in scaffolding
Safety always comes first. This is especially true if you work on scaffolding and are regularly exposed to the risks of working at height. What measures need to be taken in your workplace to significantly reduce or even prevent the risk of accidents and injuries is determined by the results of the risk assessment.
But what is a risk assessment and what does it involve? These and other frequently asked questions about risk assessment and preventing accidents when working at height are answered here.
What is a risk assessment in scaffolding?
The risk assessment helps you to identify and evaluate possible hazards and risks in your workplace even before the project starts. To this end, working conditions and procedures during the assembly, use and dismantling of scaffolding are systematically analysed and documented.
Based on the risk assessment, you can decide on measures to prevent accidents and injuries and create a safe working environment. Important emergency procedures, such as the work at height rescue plan, are also based on the risk assessment.
Who is responsible for carrying out a risk assessment in scaffolding?
In most cases, it’s the responsibly of the scaffolding company that assembles and dismantles the scaffolding to carry out the risk assessment. In doing so, the working conditions during scaffold assembly, scaffold use and scaffold dismantling must be regularly checked for possible hazards and risks and, if necessary, suitable measures to reduce or avoid them need to be taken.
What steps does a scaffolding risk assessment typically include?
The steps you need to take in your risk assessment will depend entirely on your local regulations. This 7-step plan provided by the Federal Guild of Scaffolding (Bundesinnung Gerüstbau) in Germany gives you a good idea:
Step 1: Identify work areas, activities and responsibilities, taking into account the operating conditions
Step 2: Identify the hazards
Step 3: Assess the hazards
Step 4: Determine protective measures against falls from scaffolding and other hazards
Step 5: Implement and document protective measures
Step 6: Check the effectiveness of all protective measures
Step 7: Update the risk assessment for the same or changed conditions
What are the typical hazards and risks in scaffolding that need to be considered in the risk assessment?
When working at height, the risk of falling from scaffolding is always present and must always be included in the risk assessment. However, falling objects, tripping or slipping hazards on the scaffold, structural failure of the scaffold or even electrical accidents are also among the most common causes of injuries in the scaffolding industry.
In addition to these more common risks when working on a scaffold, special projects such as scaffolding for industrial plants, wind turbines, or chimneys may present particular hazards that require an extended risk assessment.
What safety measures can result from the risk assessment?
As is often the case, good preparation is key in the scaffolding business! Based on the hazards and risks identified for your project, you must determine appropriate measures to minimise or even prevent the risk of injury. This includes for example
- Safety equipment such as work gloves, hard hats, safety goggles and PPE such as safety belts and harnesses
- Following safety rules and procedures
- Regular inspection and maintenance of your scaffolding
- Regular safety training of your team
A carefully conducted risk assessment is an important component in establishing and maintaining occupational health and safety in scaffolding projects. For more information and best practices in scaffold safety, click through to our blog.
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