Spring is here and the memories of working in the cold, wind and rain of the winter months are hopefully behind us. Gone are the days of shivering through your day, slippery surfaces, the rain and wind battering you and your working environment and we all welcome the sunshine and a more manageable climate.
There are, however, risks within the scaffolding industry that we need to look at and take care of, despite our days being brighter, warmer and easier to manage. Scaffolding hazards don’t vanish, they just change as our weather and environment do.
Our focus on preventing risks and accidents needs to change also. As the days get warmer, the air quality changes and there are new challenges to account for, we need to put measures in place to secure the safety of our staff and colleagues.
Here are 5 things that all of us in the scaffolding industry can be aware of:
Keeping hydrated is hugely important. Dehydration is an issue for everyone on site, especially scaffolders, so making sure that both staff and management are responsible for their water intake is vitally important.
Make sure that there are water bottles available on site, either refrigerated or in shady areas, as this will not only keep the bottles cooler, it will also make sure that the staff are having a few moments out of the sun.
- Sunburn & Heatstroke
Scaffolders are working outside for extended periods of time and although we aren’t yet in the middle of summer, the threat of sunburn or heatstroke is still very relevant in spring, when the UV is much higher.
It’s extremely important to apply a high factor sun cream (SPF30 plus ideally) before you leave for the site or yard and then to re-apply at intervals during the working day.
A hard hat protects you from the sun, but don’t forget to protect the back of your neck too.
Not adequately protecting yourself from the sun can cause long term effects such as skin cancer and in the case of heat exhaustion, if it isn’t treated or looked after it can cause considerable internal damage.
Keep an eye on your state of mind and if you experience any symptoms of fatigue, nausea, muscle cramp, dizziness or headaches then seek on site help or advice and get it dealt with.
- Hand Protection and Grip
As the hotter weather kicks in, inevitable sweating follows and for a scaffolder sweaty and clammy hands can be a dangerous problem.
Alleviating this problem is essential by wearing a pair or breathable and lightweight scaffolding gloves. This will stop the potential accident of tools or materials slipping from your grip and falling on the unsuspecting below or you from potentially falling, if your hand does happen to slip.
- Air Pollutants and Quality
Spring brings a mass of pollen into the air which makes the air quality dip and can make it an uncomfortable environment for any worker who suffers from Hay Fever or allergies.
Making sure those particular workers bring their inhalers and medication to work is essential but supplying both eye and face protection can help the situation immensely.
- Having Work Procedures for Spring & Summer Seasons
To reduce the risks of working in a hot environment, management and staff can take the following measures to help the situation:
- Beginning a working day adequately hydrated
- Providing occasional breaks in a shaded environment
- Providing plenty of cool drinking water and all scaffolders carrying a drinks bottle
- Making special allowances for staff wearing PPE or equipment that retains heat and restricts the evaporation of sweat
- If possible, arranging work to be carried out in the cooler parts of the day
- Avoiding tea, coffee and hot, heavy meals that increase your body temperature
In summation, it’s great that the hotter months are upon us: the sunshine will make us all feel better but we have to take care and look out for the safety of all those within the scaffolding industry.
For any scaffolders who have suffered a mishap, The Lighthouse Club is there to provide any support or guidance that you may need.