Site Visit Report
During the site visit, I have been introduced to a numbers of scaffolds that include suspended, aluminum, mobile and etc. that are currently commonly found on construction site or factory. As stipulated under the Factories (Scaffolds) Regulations, a scaffold is any temporary structure on and from which a person performs work in any factory, construction site or shipyard or; which enables a person to obtain access to work at that location or which enables materials to be taken to any place at which such work is performed. I have observed quite a few areas of the erected scaffolds that will lead to potential hazards to the workers getting injured by working on it and in worst case might lead to scaffold collapsing.
Hazard (1) - Scaffold leg was sitting on red brick, uneven ground, soft soil and different height and sizes of plank was use as base support. First of all, red brick is not strong enough to take the load of the scaffold. When worker start working on the scaffold, the increase load will just cause the red brick to give way cause the scaffold to collapse. 2nd, the uneven ground and the non-uniform block which the scaffold is erected on will definitely cause the weight distribution to be concentrate more on a side than the other. In the case where the scaffold is raise higher, the whole structure might start to sway and might just topple off the ground.
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Control measure - Sole plate of the same height and good strength is being used. It provides better base foundation for soil and ground condition that is not that good. For event when the ground selected for erecting a scaffold has to be done on a uneven ground, Adjustable base plate are being use to cater for the height different, this will ensure that the weight of the scaffold are being evenly distributed among the legs. Base plate should be made of metal so as to carry the strength to hold the standards in it. Things to note that is that the base plate should not be placed protruding out of the sole plate cause the load will not be evenly spread on the sole board. Approved scaffold contractor should be around when the scaffold are being erected as under the "FACTORIES (SCAFFOLDS) REGULATION", it is the duty of them to ensure therequirement are being carried out. We can also increase scaffold stability by tying it to a supported structure.
Hazard (2) - The working platforms are also a problem cause some of it are seen with just a single timber plank or metal decking, Firstly timber planks were observed to have crack around it, a sign it might give way when excessive load is exerted on it. Metal decking also show sign of corrosion. Due to the lack of decking or planks, the working platform become having limited space to work or walk, which might led to worker falling down. Even for platform that are closely deck or plank, materials, debris and tools were notice to been place on it as a convenient way for the workers to work and storage their thing they might need for few task to prevent walking up and down the scaffold. Sometime more than the allowable workers were working on the same bay. All this is just creating more chances for worker to trip and fall, due to the item lying on the platform and also worker have lesser space to work around. It also cause the load and weight exerted on the platform to increase which most properly will exceed the amount of load that the platforms are able to hold. Decking or planks are also observed to just being laid over without being secure so it has the tendency to topple. The plank and metal decking consist of different thickness and length which create mismatch along the side of the decking or plank, which will cause the worker to trip.
Control measure - Metal decking and timber planks are used according to the same thickness and length to ensure the platform being laid will be flushed. In the event where it need to be overlay to the other, the overlapping area should be beveled or chamfer so that it won't be at right angle to avoid tripping by the workers. Metal decking with locking device and anti-skid surface are used to firmly secure the platform to the scaffold to prevent any tipping or uplift during usage, it also lower the chances of workers skidding happened at the platform. The Housekeeping shall be carried out regularly to clear off any debris (i.e. building material, concrete etc) waste, left on the platform to ensure safer walking or working. This process is a must based on factories regulation 13 so as to reduce the hazard of working in it and additional unwanted loads is being reduced. Inspection have to be carried out on the platform periodically, so that plank that have start to warp or crack and metal decking that have start to corrode or stiffener that are wearing out will be removed and replaced with a new one. In the event of repairing the damage scaffold, no one shall be allowed to on it except for the approving contractor who is carrying out the task. The numbers of worker working at any one time are restricted so as to prevent exceeding the working load limit. Not more than 3 workers with tools and materials should be allowed on the platform at any one time, also the platform should be at least be 500mm width so as to create the footing space under mom regulation.
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Hazard (3) - No ladder or stair was installed in the scaffold, which indicated no proper mean of access to the higher level or travel to another scaffold. Workers will just climb the frame of the scaffold as the mean to get to the upper level or another scaffold. This will induce a potential case of workers falling off from it as there are no protections or anything to secure them.
Control measure - Ladder and stair are installed for scaffold erected above 2 meters. It is also built in a way that it does not run from the bottom to the top in great height as worker will mostly falls with fatal injury, instead it is level by level. It is also built within the scaffold. When stair and ladder are available, it provide a safe and easy mean of traveling up and down, thus reduce the intention of workers climbing as a mean of traveling between the scaffold. It should be installed on a firm base that is level ground Under Regulation (17), MOM makes it a must to have ladder or stair installed for scaffold but it should never be use on a bay to gain extra height. If the access bay is part of the working platform, a trap door is to be provided. Strict controls are to be implemented to ensure the trap door remains closed while working from the platform according COP 2009 AU.
Hazard (4) - Scaffold platform was not built with toe-guard and guard rail and the side are being exposed to open area. Worker working on the platform have a increased chance of falling off the platform. Tools, material and debris that are placed on the platform are likely to fell down the platform due to worker will just kick over it. Workers working or walking around the bottom of the scaffold area might get injured.
Control measure - Toe guard are built at the sides of the platform to prevent item on the platform to fall down to the ground. It should be built right from the bottom and no opening so as prevent even small object to fell through it. The height should not be too low as thing will still topple off it. The standard requirement is toe guard should not be less than 90mm in height. Guardrails are installed to prevent worker from falling off from the platform when stretching out to work. Guard rail height should not be less than a meter from the platform cause installing too low would not serve the purpose of minimizing worker from falling and Minimum of 2 guardrails is to be installed on any platform with opening above 2meter according to regulation 18.
Hazard (5) - Some scaffold come with tag to declare it serviceability to use but some did not have tag available attached to it. So one could not tell whether it is safe for using or not. Some tags only indicate with a tick or a cross. Even if we want to check when the scaffold will be repaired or whether the serviceable tag is still valid, there is no information on the company or the approved scaffold contractor/supervisor to follow up with. Some part of the scaffold was found to be tampered.
Control Measure - Ensuring that every scaffold must have a tag marked clearly attached at the designated entry point so every workers using can see it clearly before using. There should be detail like the company name and the supervisor who carried out the inspection to promote ownership in the site. Contact number should also be included to cater for any issue regarding the scaffold. It also good to include the date the last inspection was done and the next inspection due date. In case that the supervisor forgot to come and inspect, worker can base on the information at the tag to determine whether the scaffold can still be use for working. Usually at site consist of workers from different country, so if able to display in a language or signboard that are easily understood would be helpful to them and thus reduced unwanted assumption. There should also be at least one designated access onto the scaffold. Lastly to add on, the ensuring of approve scaffold supervisor after every inspection immediately place a notice on the scaffold to certified whether it safe to be use should be enforced. Regular inspection can also identify unauthorise tampering of the component of the scaffold.
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Hazards (6) - Scaffold erectors were working without any protective gear or safety harness. Some of them wore unsuitable PPE (incorrect size of gloves, boot, helmet etc.).This will affect their griping strength their ankle protection. In this situation, they become more prone to get into accident or suffer more serious injuries when thing were to strike them.
Control measure - Safety boot should be provided to prevent tools or material dropping on the workers leg and also it also can act as a protection for it ankle and anti slip surface against slippery area. Helmet should be worn to prevent object falling from the above to hit the head directly. Glove can protect from burns and chemicals. When working on scaffold from 2 meter height and above, erectors should always equip themselves with safety harness with shock absorber. With the hook, the erector will able to secure them to the structure of the scaffold to prevent them from falling down. In the case where the worker fall down the platform, he would be held by the harness which will prevent him from hitting the ground and the shock absorber will minimize the chances of them injuring their spine due to the impact of the fall. Correct sizing and the appropriate type of PPE related to their work area must be issue to the workers.
Hazards (7) - Overlay and screening net was not secure tightly and the anchored point are tied to the scaffold. In the event of strong wind and rain, it would not serve as a protection for the workers in the building. There are also chances that it will be blown away. If it dislodged and fly out of the site, it may cause injury to the passer-by. The dragging effect of unsecured netting will cause the scaffold to experience more stress and load to it. Scaffolds might collapse as a result. Some areas of the netting are torn with holes. Debris will be able to through the net and hit the people below and more dust will be exposed out to the environment.
Counter measures - The net or overlay shall be tied the building structure, the top of the building structure is preferred as a anchored point. As the structure of scaffold are not designed strong enough to hold this extra load. Building structure provides better strength to counter to the wind and rain and also able to withstand load on them. Secured netting also serves to enclose the scaffold when it properly tied. Damage screening net should be repaired whenever reported by workers. Netting shall be installed as close to the scaffolds as possible for the maximum effect. It should only be installed and maintains by a qualified persons. If the area always experience strong wind, more tied point shall be imposed to strengthen and secure it. It a must to fit netting or overlay for any external scaffold under MOM regulation.
Hazards (8) - Scaffold consist of various components which are not from the same manufacturer. Although it might look compatible to use, but often the material strength, sizes will differ. Due to different manufacturer have their own design, having different manufacturer components will usually lead installation difficulties. Forcing to install it will lead to increase wear of the component, loading capacity might be reduced. For e.g. mixing of aluminum and steel component, by using a couple which is made of steel will tend to crush the aluminum component as their strength is different. It will cause the structure to be weakened.
Counter measured - Always try to buy the whole set of component from the same manufacturer as their own design will often created for easy installation and able to provide the adequate strength as promised. In the event of the need to use different manufacturer component, A Professional Engineer should certified that the sizes, fixing device are compatible and most important it does not lessen the strength, stability, rigidity or suitability of the scaffold under COP 2009.au
From here I end my report, the below website or file is where I took reference from - www.mom.gov.sg , www.gov.pe.ca/law/regulations/pdf/O&01-01-2.pdf, app.wshc.gov.sg/cms/Portals/0/Technical Advisory for Scaffolds.pdf, COP 2009 - AU.