The National Access and Scaffolding Confederation has reissued its guidance on preventing falls. It’s a document which could be useful to you even if you are not directly involved in scaffolding. As it provides good information and advice for those in control of scaffolding contractors on site or on your premise.
The full title of the document is SG4:15Preventing Falls in Scaffolding Operations. It’s highly influential; for example, it’s as a result of this standard that scaffolders now use fall protection harnesses and lanyards when erecting and dismantling scaffold.
The National Access and Scaffolding Confederation says that as a result of the application of SG4:15 there has been an 82% reduction in falls from height in a 15-year period amongst its member companies.
SG4:15 is described as “industry good practice”, which might suggest that it’s optional. However, it’s used by enforcing authorities and others to check the suitability of safety arrangements found on site. You should therefore regard it as compulsory.
SG4:15 is filled with simple illustrations showing good practice, and you don’t need to be a scaffolder to understand it. Whether you are a client, principal contractor, site supervisor or health and safety advisor, use this document to check whether scaffolders are working safely.
The 50-page document is a comprehensive guide to a wide variety of scaffolding structures.
Its sections cover: planning for work at height, e.g. training, risk assessment, rescue plans, weather effects and design work; a description of “the scaffolders’ safe zone”, and how to construct one; less usual scaffolding applications, e.g. bridging, loading bays, chimney scaffolds, debris chutes; methods of access and egress; personal fall protection including the use of harnesses, lanyards and anchor points; and rescue arrangements.
This revision includes more emphasis on using a scaffolders’ safe zone. This is a fully boarded platform with a double rail surrounding it. Within this area most types of work do not require the lanyard to be clipped on.
This document is filled with details which all competent scaffolders should be aware of. But if your role is simply overseeing some work, for example as a client, what should you expect to see in terms of safe working practice.