WHY HANDRAILS & EDGE PROTECTION ARE ESSENTIAL ON SCAFFOLDS
Edge protection on scaffold work platforms can be a life saver. While accidents on scaffolding are on the decrease, scaffolding without appropriate guards or rails can increase the hazards associated with working at height.
When you choose a scaffolding hire firm, you should ask as many questions as you feel that you need to about the measures that will be taken to protect your on site workers. At UK Scaffolders, we have a wide range of protective solutions that complement the many different types of scaffold that we build for our customers.
Where there is a possibility of a fall of more than 2 metres, sufficient edge protection should be provided. The Health & Safety Executive states that this must be as follows to meet minimum legal standards:
- The main guardrail placed at least 910mm above the edge
- Toe boards at least 150mm high
- Another handrail or similar type of protective barrier so that any gap that is left is less than 470mm.
In the event that it’s impossible to implement edge protection, scaffolding companies are obliged to provide safety nets or harnesses as an alternative. However, our preference is always to use edge protection & handrails and we will go the extra mile to devise a solution wherever possible to protect the workers who will use the scaffolding.
How handrails and edge protection should be installed
We install a double rail at the appropriate height and toe boards if required to stop any tools or materials being inadvertently kicked off the work platform. On industrial or larger commercial projects, we use handrails that are built up and connected to the frame of the building so that roofers and cladders can enjoy full edge protection while they work. We also add an access tower from ground to roof level so that access to the working platforms is safe and secure.
Steel work handrails can be built from a ladder if the erection height is less than 4 metres but anything taller than this will require a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP). This is also known as a powered access platform or cherry picker and the scaffolder who operates it needs to have undertaken specialist training. MEWPs give a basket in which to work that can be moved around at high level, keeping scaffolders safe while they install the required handrails & edge protection.
Appropriate protection is essential when repairing or replacing roofs. We provide flat roofing edge protection and hand rails from the ground upwards. Depending upon the height of the scaffolding required, we can install off a ladder or from the flat roof level. We use upright tubes against the building up to the correct level and horizontal tubes on the flat roof area to create the guard rail edge protection.
If the building height is 6 metres or less, we’ll install an upright from ground level, with a raking tube incorporated from the top handrail height to support the tubes and keep them firm against the property. When we provide scaffolds for buildings taller than 5 metres, this involves the construction of a series of towers or scaffolding up to the required height to allow a 6 metre tube to be added on top to reach the roof level.
For steep roofs (for example, where the level exceeds 10 metres), we have to think of other options to ensure safety. In these circumstances, we generally use specialist hilti brackets that allow us to install a 1.5 metre upright from them. We then build in the horizontal tubes on what is referred to as the puncheon tube. The advantage of this option is that it reduces the amount of scaffolding that needs to be used from ground level and therefore saves money.
We often use A-frame handrail systems if concrete slab edge protection is required and on some roof repair projects. These are achieved by cross bracing 1.5 metre long tubes with a horizontal tube to form the A shape and, as you can imagine, offer more robust fall protection for workers. Where the work involves roofing, we join the rails together around the perimeter of the roof and supply an access tower to reach the working level. Slab edge handrails are usually built in 6 metre lengths to allow workers to move around safely.
Whatever your scaffolding requirements are, you can be sure that our scaffolding teams always have the appropriate edge protection in mind. Safety is our number one concern but we don’t think that ease of access should have to be compromised. In other words, because of the expertise of our scaffolders, we can achieve both for our customers and give them full peace of mind.