Performing checks for scaffolding in winter

Performing checks for scaffolding

As the mornings become colder, it’s easy to get excited for the cozy autumn and winter seasons; whether you’ve started making winter plans, or you’ve stocked up on plush blankets and hot chocolate, there are a variety of activities that you can try to get into the festive spirit.

However, while the colder temperatures bring plenty of festive cheer, there are a few practical things that people must prepare for as well.

It is common knowledge that India is prone to harsh winters. From numerous snow days to icy winds and weeks of rain, and as a result, this can make it more difficult.

Slips and falls, car accidents, illnesses, and other incidents are all possible.

For those who work in an office, this may not be a major concern.

However, for individuals who work outside, such as building and scaffolding contractors, it is critical that teams and individuals take the necessary precautions to ensure that both the work and their safety are not jeopardised.

Even a report by scholar.afit states that the impact of cold weather stays long, and staying prepared and protected is what safety professionals should aim for.

With this in mind, we have years of experience as a leading scaffolding training provider, we ensure the safety of our learners. And, having worked through many cold winters, we know how to care for our employees.

We’ve compiled a list of our top winter safety tips for scaffolders and scaffolding companies to follow.

First and foremost, we thought it would be best to outline the Health and Safety Executive’s preliminary scaffolding safety requirements. This is since it states the general high standard that scaffolding companies should adhere to regardless of weather.

Elements of scaffolding

To begin, the Work at Height Regulations 2005 require that a scaffold be designed by a competent person to ensure that it has accurate strength, rigidity, and stability when erected and dismantled.

During the scaffolding planning process, a comprehensive report of the site should be provided, which should include the following:

  • Intended application
  • Height, length, and critical site dimensions that would affect scaffolding
  • Number of lifts boarded
  • Maximum working loads and the number of people allowed on the scaffolding at the same time
  • Type of scaffolding access
  • Whether sheeting, netting, or brick guards are required.
  • Any special requirements that must be met prior to construction, such as obstructing a pedestrian walkway
  • The characteristics of the ground conditions that support the structure
  • Any restrictions that would impede scaffolding installation

Following that, another report would be created determining the type of scaffolding required, the maximum number of loads, minimum lift heights, maximum tie spacing, and other scaffolding design details.

However, with the considerations in mind for the elements of scaffolding weather forecasts should be a thing before erecting scaffolding.

For example, if you plan to complete a build or renovation during the winter, you should consider this, as well as netting over scaffolding. Netting is used to contain debris while also protecting workers from strong winds and bad weather.

Perform additional scaffolding inspections beginning late

It is critical that scaffolding checks are performed by the competent person or site manager at the start of each day before work begins to ensure that the site is safe to work for. Even though this should be done at any time of year, it is critical that these checks are also performed.

This is since as the temperature drops during the night, water and dew are more likely to freeze over, resulting in slippery surfaces – a potentially very dangerous issue for scaffolders working at a height.

Though the dew subsides as the temperatures rise throughout the day, depending on the weather, the scaffolding boards could be a slippery to work on. If this is the case, make certain that your scaffolders are not working from a height and that they begin later in the day.

Before beginning work, check the weather forecast.

In addition to performing extra scaffolding checks, scaffolding companies should take weekly and monthly precautions to obtain accurate weather forecasts for the coming week. For example, if snowfall, high winds, and freezing temperatures are forecast.

When temperatures are below zero, you can take the necessary precautions to inform employees, make decisions, and maintain good communication with the client.

Purchase additional lighting for dark evenings

Winter brings many festivities, but it also brings dark mornings and dark evenings. During December, it can feel like the sun rises at 8 a.m. and sets at 5:30 p.m., which is inconvenient for scaffolders and contractors who must work before, during, and after this time.

Therefore, it is critical to take the necessary precautions to create a well-lit site. This not only ensures the safety of your contractors by allowing you to see the work they are doing, but it will also save you money.

Make the site visible to people outside the site, such as pedestrians and drivers – this is especially important if the work is being done in a commercial building or a busy pedestrian area.

Along with additional lighting, make sure that the contractors are dressed in high visibility clothing. This will increase their visibility on-site and make it safer to work.

Maintain Open Communication to train and work

If there are any unexpected weather changes, or if you believe it is simply too cold for your scaffolders to work outside, you must maintain good communication with the leading safety personnel around you.

Simply notifying them that work will not be completed and providing them with a timeline for when work will resume and how this will affect the overall renovation or construction will result in a good outcome.

Meanwhile, utilize that time in engaging workers in short instructional modules, like animation videos and upskill their knowledge to help them sustain in adverse conditions. Make it a habit to instill safety values and ethics, periodically, to ensure that ‘Safety is out of sight, but not out of mind’!

Ensure that employees take extra breaks during inclement weather

When deadlines are tight but bad weather strikes, it can be difficult to force your contractors to work. To avoid this, ensure that your employees take extra breaks, are well fed, and hydrated, and spend time in a warm building.

Reduce the risk of illness and boost employee morale

Make it a requirement for employees to wear warm clothing.

This may seem obvious, but you should ensure that your contractors are dressed warmly for work. This could include stocking extra-thick high visibility jackets designed for outdoor work, as well as thermal underlayers for them to wear.

You could also create a pamphlet that you can distribute to employees as cold weather approaches, informing them of what they should wear to stay warm and why it is necessary.

Make certain that all employees are wearing sturdy non-slip footwear.

When erecting and working on scaffolding, make sure that the scaffolders are wearing non-slip footwear.

Work and combat boots are specifically designed for traction and resistance to icy temperatures. After all, poor footwear can be the cause of a variety of terrible accidents for which you may be held liable.

Make it a requirement for scaffolders to wear these all winter, and don’t let them work from a height if they don’t.

If the weather is particularly bad, avoid working.

Of course, if a bad weather is forecast for a few days, it is critical that work be halted. This is since it can result in extremely slippery surfaces, freezing temperatures, and slowed productivity. It is simply not worth putting your scaffolders’ safety at risk by forcing them to work.

Furthermore, it is likely that public transportation will be disrupted and driving conditions will be less than ideal, so if your scaffolders must travel far to get to work, you may be putting them in danger before the day has even begun.

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