by Frederike Berg
Staying safe when working at height: accident prevention on the scaffold
Scaffolding systems today are safer than ever. Our Scafom-rux engineers work every day to ensure that you can rely on the highest possible safety standards. However, it is also clear that a good dose of caution is always required when working at height. Technical protective equipment such as TRBS 2121-compliant advanced guardrails or personal protective equipment against falls from a height (PPE) help to significantly reduce the risk of serious accidents on scaffolding. But, as always, good preparation is and remains indispensable. Here you can read about the measures you can take to avoid serious accidents in scaffolding and to prepare yourself for an emergency.
Proven means of accident prevention in scaffolding: PPE
Personal protective equipment against falls from a height, PPE for short, has prevented many a serious accident in scaffolding. Particularly in the case of scaffolding without a continuous scaffolding alignment, safety regulations such as TRBS 2121 stipulate that PPE is mandatory from a fall height of 2 metres. However, this alone is not enough to completely prevent serious injuries or worse. Therefore, you should consider a few things when using PPE:
1. Choosing a safe PPE for working on the scaffold
How safe PPE is for you starts with its purchase. The legally required risk assessment will tell you whether or which PPE you should use. In any case, make sure that it is approved for scaffolding, has a CE marking (Europe) or complies with OSHA/ANSI (USA), CSA (Canada) or AS/NZS (Australia/New Zealand) standards. Read here what else you need to consider when choosing a PPE.
2. The right attachment of the PPE on the scaffold
In order for the PPE to be of real use in an emergency, it must not only be continuously checked, but also properly attached. You can find out where this has to be done either in the assembly instructions for your scaffolding or in the instructions for use of the PPE itself. If these instructions are missing, you can determine the anchorage points yourself after you have been professionally instructed how to do so. In any case, make sure that the anchorage points are on a load-bearing structure and at least 1 metre above your standing surface. Also, there should be enough free space below you. This way you avoid colliding with the scaffold or the construction object in case of a fall.
3. Training in the use of PPE on the scaffold
The use of the PPE in practice also needs to be trained. PPE should therefore only be used after appropriate training. Annual instruction is even mandatory. That is why Scafom-rux offers height safety trainings where you learn how to use your PPE and height safety devices safely. Everyone who uses a PPE on the scaffold must have received instruction in advance, in which at least the following points must be explained:
- how fall protection systems work
- what to consider when putting on PPE
- how to select suitable anchorage points
- where exactly the personal anchorage points should be located
The right preparation makes all the difference: the emergency rescue plan
In order to know immediately what to do in the event of an accident, a so-called rescue plan must be available. It describes the operational measures for rescuing an accident victim and is individually adapted for each project that requires work at height. The rescue plan derives from the risk assessment made before. Basically, a rescue plan is structured as follows
- Observation of self-protection
- Adressing the casualty and possibly instructing him/her to help him/herself.
- Dialling the emergency number
- Description of how to carry out the rescue measures
- First aid measures
Each company decides for itself what the individual measures look like in detail and which rescue and safety equipment is to be used. You can find more information on the rescue plan here.
In general, the best means of accident prevention is regular training in safe behaviour when working at height and in emergency situations. For an overview of what to do when an accident happens despite all careful preparations, stay tuned for Part 2 of our height safety and rescue series.
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