Safety & Access

A Guide to Scaffold Tower Safety

May 31st, 2018

A scaffold tower is a very useful piece of equipment on construction sites. When the need to work at a height for a long period of time arises, these towers provide an effective way of doing so. In the right hands, they are relatively easy to assemble, can be moved from one position to another and can provide much more accessibility than you would otherwise have on the construction site.

Of course, working from a height does pose some risks, and if the scaffold tower hasn’t been properly assembled or isn’t used correctly, the chances of these risks occurring are increased. Here in our guide, we discuss different elements of scaffold tower safety, why they are so important and what can happen if you don’t adhere to the safety regulations.

Why is scaffold tower safety so important?

As mentioned earlier, there are a number of risks associated with working from a height on a scaffold tower, which are usually more likely to happen on a construction site if there are no safety measures in place, or if they haven’t been properly followed.

The following risks are the main dangers faced without appropriate scaffold tower procedures in place:

  • Falling from a height, whether that’s during assembly or when using the platform.
  • Injury when assembling or dismantling the scaffold tower.
  • Injury when carrying or lifting heavy objects up to the tower’s platform.
  • Injury from falling objects that have been dropped from the tower’s platform.
  • Potential for the scaffold tower to collapse or overturn from poor assembly, poor positioning or if it is hit by a vehicle on the construction site.

With careful consideration for the site’s safety procedures when it comes to the use of scaffold towers, these risks will be minimised and site employees can enjoy a safe working environment.

How to ensure the safe use of scaffold towers on site

The Work at Height Regulations were implemented, to reduce the level of risk associated with using scaffold towers, whether that’s on a construction site or for other purposes. The regulations offer guidelines on how to ensure a safe assembly and use of these towers.

Firstly, an in-depth risk assessment of using a scaffold tower in your work environment must be carried out before assembling and using the equipment. This should be carried out by an individual who has undergone the relevant training required, as well as any practical experience that enables them to assemble the tower correctly, all whilst being able to assess any risks, detect any defaults with the tower and be able to provide a solution to eliminate that risk.

Once the risk assessment has been created and signed off, the tower can be assembled by the competent individual. A pre-use inspection is a must before anyone uses the scaffold tower to work at a height. This involved completing a pre-check record document, that demonstrates the relevant checks have been carried out.

Those who work on or around the scaffold tower, must be aware of the safety procedures involved with using the tower on site, before allowing them to make use of the equipment.

Regular safety checks must be made and documented at different intervals, throughout the time that the scaffold tower is used on site. This will ensure that the tower remains as safe as it was just after its assembly and that it can continued to be used with minimal risk.

When there is no longer a need for the scaffold tower on site, the qualified individual must dismantle the tower, exactly as they have been trained to do.

These regulations have been put in place to reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries befalling the workers who use a scaffold tower, as well as those in its close vicinity.

Top scaffold tower safety tips

Although it’s essential to take part in the appropriate training course as well as to bear the Work at Height regulations in mind, we’ve provided some of our own scaffold tower safety tips for you to follow:

  • Make sure that the tower you choose to use is appropriate for the work you are planning to carry out.
  • If you notice something wrong during one of your regular checks, work must cease immediately and until the problem has been remedied.
  • Always follow the manufacturers assembly and dismantling instructions to the letter. An instruction will be provided with the scaffold tower.
  • Scaffold towers must always be placed on a firm and level surface.
  • Never build the tower to a height greater than what’s recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Avoid areas where power lines or other overhead obstructions are present.
  • Never use the tower during extreme weather conditions.
  • Ensure that scaffold tower workers receive regular breaks and rest to reduce the likelihood of any mishaps.

HSE has plenty more information on how to safely build, use and move a scaffold tower, but we hope that our guide offers plenty of information on how to begin using scaffold towers on your construction site, in a safe and responsible manner.