by Frederike Berg
How can I prevent unauthorised access to my scaffolding?
It almost goes without saying that a scaffold must be safe for the user. Fall protection, barriers, safety catches and regular safety training can significantly reduce the risk of accidents.
But that is not all. For example, scaffolds are often located in public spaces, for example, where site perimeter fencing or local fencing of the scaffold is not always possible. This makes them easily accessible to children, passers-by or even vandals. If these then try climbing onto the scaffolding without permission, it can quickly become dangerous. Scaffolding should therefore only be accessed by qualified and authorised persons and scaffold users are required by HSE, NASC and TRBS 2121 recommendations to secure it against unauthorised access.
The extent to which you need to protect your scaffolding from unauthorised access depends largely on its location. The first step is to carry out a site assessment to determine the security level of the site. If the site assessment shows that the site is not sufficiently protected against unauthorised access, you can take the following measures to deny access to your scaffold.
1. Remove ladders
Whether you use stairs, stair towers or internal ladders to access your scaffold, they must be secured against unauthorised use. Therefore, the lowest and most accessible ladders should always be removed outside working hours, stored in an inaccessible place and the ladder opening blocked. If you are using a ladder frame with a retractable ladder, you can secure it against unauthorised unfolding, for example with a cable lock.
2. Deny access to stair towers
For stair towers, or wherever removal or retraction of ladders is not recommended, you can use padlocked fence panels or scaffold enclosures such as Scafom-rux SCAFFGUARD. With one important exception: if the stair tower is part of a rescue or escape route, your measures to prevent unauthorised access must not hinder evacuation in the event of an emergency. For example, escape doors in the scaffold enclosure that can be opened to the outside at any time but prevent access to the scaffold are suitable for this purpose.
3. Use ladder guards
If the scaffold ladder cannot or must not be removed, ladder guards can be used. These sturdy metal plates are hooked over several rungs of the ladder and locked in place, blocking access to the scaffold. According to the HSE, wooden alternatives may also be acceptable, as long as they are durable and can be locked in place. If you want to use a ladder guard, you should consider the following:
- Ladder guards must be securely attached and locked so that unauthorised persons cannot remove them. Padlocks can be used for this purpose. Simple attachments, such as ropes, are not permitted.
- Ladder guards should permanently cover at least 6 rungs of a ladder so that they are unusable. In concrete terms, this means that more than 50 mm can never be exposed, even if the guard is pushed to the side as far as possible.
- Handles or carrying slots on the ladder guard should not provide a foothold for climbing up.
- Ladder guards made of fabric are not permitted in external or internal public spaces.
For more information on ladder guards, click on the link.
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