Construction environments possess a mix of high-risk processes and an ever-changing environment that makes monitoring both more important and more challenging. For this reason, professional inspections are needed with a higher frequency. One example of this is ladder & scaffolding inspection. Because these pieces of equipment are designed to be easily taken down and re-used in various locations around a construction site, frequent checks can help enhance worker safety from improper use and increased wear and tear.
Hazards relating to scaffolding can include inadequate size, holes, unlevel surface, lack of appropriate guardrails where applicable, misuse of manufactured components (such as using beams with a rated load lower than that which is occurring), improper geometric construction, and electrical hazards such as proximity to high voltage electric lines1. Scaffolds have historically been hastily constructed platforms made for quick use and disassembly, but with an increasing shift towards personnel safety in construction (as well as ever taller heights that work may occur), these safety standards are essential. A scaffolding inspection service can help assess compliance with legal or manufacturer instructions around the use of the platform. The service can be commissioned for several reasons, from a desire to outsource regular maintenance checks to a desire by the property owner or construction manager to reduce liability and decrease the risk of any injuries.
Ladder inspections share some similarities, including the importance of a level surface and sufficient rated strength for the task. Unlike for scaffolding, ladders do not require guardrails, but do need proper angle of position relative to the structure, sufficient length for the task, and use guidelines including avoiding unsafely carrying heavy items while ascending or ascended1. Notably, “If work cannot be done from a ladder without hazard to a worker, a work platform must be provided.”1 Ladders are expected to be even more temporary than scaffolding, and are convenient for this reason. However, a proper inspection may find that a given task is too heavy-duty to be performed with just a ladder, and a slightly more permanent work area must be constructed.
While personal protective equipment (PPE) can help enhance overall worker safety, this is no replacement for inspections of the equipment itself. However, there are some additional safety precautions that can be taken around the use of ladders and scaffolding. Hardhats are a common requirement at sites of construction, and these can help minimize injuries resulting from falling objects or structures. If a scaffolding were to become unstable, for example, a paint can could be dislodged and pose a danger to workers standing below. Additionally, some circumstances will call for harnesses attached to a secure mounting point or part of the structure, and these can help protect workers using scaffoldings or ladders in the event of a fall. Whether a situation is dangerous enough or the height reached is high enough to necessitate this precaution will depend on regional regulations and the discretion of those employed by the construction contractor.
Ladders and Scaffolding inspections can keep these construction tools both convenient and safe for the personnel using them.