9 Jan 2015

How secure is your scaffold? Things to consider during stormy weather

With gusts reaching 113mph in Stornoway last night and wind speeds of 90+mph across much of Scotland (with more of the same being forecast for the coming days), now seems a sensible time to remind people working with/on scaffolding of the dangers and precautions that should be considered during such periods of inclement weather.

Regardless of weather conditions it is always important to ensure that all scaffolds are erected in accordance with guidance from manufacturers' user guides, technical guidance such as the NASC's TG20, and / or with the appropriate scaffold design.

The Good to Go Safety checklist can be used to help indicate that pre-use checks have been carried out and a “Good to Go” message displayed in the tag window to inform people of its status. Such inspections take on extra importance during stormy conditions.

Of particular concern during periods of strong wind are bracing and tie arrangements. When ties are properly installed (correct tie pattern, sufficient coupler connections to scaffold, adequately tested etc) the chances of failure are significantly reduced. Scaffold designs do account for high wind speeds in the calculation of tie loads (70-80 mph wind or greater is usually built into the equation) as, let’s be honest, such wind speeds are not that rare within the UK.

Knowing that strong winds are on the way also allows for additional safety preparations to be put in place in advance of the storms arrival. Boards can be tied down with retaining couplers sheeting/netting can be removed or secured with additional ties (the last thing you want is for the sheeting/netting to act like a sail determined to bring your scaffold down). Remove any loose items/tools/equipment from atop the scaffold which could become a lethal weapon if whipped from above.

Remove the Good to Go Safety checklist from the tag to display a “Do Not Use” message to remind workers of the dangers of unsafe conditions. Scaffolds shouldn’t be used during severe weather conditions (40mph being the usual maximum speed before work is stopped completely).

Once things have calmed down and normality is resumed then it is essential to carry out another pre-use inspection to ensure that nothing has worked loose or been damaged. Once satisfied that the scaffold is ok the tag can be updated to display a “Good to Go” message.

We should all be aware of the dangers that strong winds can bring but it doesn’t stop headlines being made when something goes wrong as per this collapse yesterday in Cambridge - Read More So don’t ignore the risks and prepare in advance wherever you can. Stay safe and stay Good to Go!

*For our full range of scaffold tags & checklist systems visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk

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