Scaffolding construction services in South Africa are a necessity due to the major upgrades of so much of the existing infrastructure in and around cities and the construction of new buildings. With events such as the FIFA World Cup in the near future and the progression of South Africa into becoming a first world country, the transformation of the visual and structural aspects of the country are staggering. Along with these transformations comes the need for reliable and safe scaffolding services and systems through a safety approved contractor.
Hiring a Contractor
Hiring a licensed scaffolding contractor is the best method of finding a reliable and safe scaffolding system to use. In South Africa, contractors must abide by governmental safety legislations and the OHS Act & SANS 10085 to ensure that optimum safety is maintained during scaffolding operations and to avoid prosecution for accidents or death.
From the years 2000 to 2005, there were 3999 injuries in the United Kingdom caused by various accidents on construction sites, all of which were avoidable – with proper care and safety, accidents should be extremely minimal.
Scaffolding Safety Preparation
Before a scaffolding structure is erected, there is some preparation which should be carried out by the scaffolding contractor hired for the job and by the person hiring the contractor.
Firstly, the area where the scaffolding is to be erected needs to be a level surface that is stable, and if it is not, the contractor will need to stabilise it and make sure that it is adequate to support the scaffolds.
Safety of bystanders is incredibly important and if the scaffolding is to be erected in a public place, appropriate measures need to be taken. For example, the work can be scheduled to proceed during quiet periods, during which less people are likely to be in proximity to the structure or roads can be closed through council permission. Scaffolding should never be erected near power lines as this can be extremely dangerous and result in fatalities.
If scaffolding is to be used on a freeway or highway, the contractor is required to have a license especially for this and is responsible for applying for and obtaining such a license. However, the person hiring the contractor is responsible for asking for planning permission from the local council regarding the erection of any temporary structure and possible permanent structures the scaffolding may be used for.
Workers erecting scaffolding should be properly trained in the correct methods of constructing the scaffolding and working with temporary structures.
Before use, the scaffolding should be inspected, and again once it is assembled. It is also advisable that the scaffolding is checked at regular intervals for weaknesses or damage to the structure and materials. This is especially important after an addition or change has been made to the scaffolding. Equally as important, scaffolding should be checked after very dry weather, storms, strong winds and other factors which may affect the safety of the scaffold structure.
Safety During Scaffolding Use
When scaffolding structures are in use, workmen should not store materials on the scaffolding boards. Anything left on the boards could cause someone to trip on the scaffolding and fall or cause injury to someone on the ground.
Physical barriers are recommended to prevent injuries to people walking underneath the scaffolding structure, but using tape to create barriers is not recommended as people can (and will) ignore the tape and walk through. Similarly, if the scaffolding is left unattended, the access ladder should be removed to prevent access to unauthorised individuals. Movable tower scaffolding must have the wheels locked when workers are working from the towers and they are required to be stationary.
With pre-made systems such as Self-Lock and Kwik-Stage scaffolding, the risks of accidents are reduced due to the built in safety systems of the scaffolding. These systems can be constructed very easily and by fewer workmen without compromising on safety. The systems are locking systems which do not allow for any part of a scaffolding structure to become loose and due to being made from steel, the scaffolding material is virtually indestructible.
Scaffold hire is a growing necessity in South Africa, especially with special events, the successful film industry and the forthcoming FIFA World cup happening in the country. Without proper safety regulations and practices, the risk of injury and fatalities is high. Proper use of scaffolding is what will keep the construction and scaffolding industries the successful and thriving services that they are.
About the Author:
Cape Formwork Contractors (CFC) are a scaffolding and formwork hire company who use Kwik-Stage and Self-Lock systems for their scaffolding and supply scaffolding services that adhere to strict safety regulations.