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HSE Issue Access Safety Alert

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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a new safety alert expanding on existing scaffold guidance. The move is aimed at enhancing current procedures to offer even greater protection to both construction workers and the public.

Key issues centre around site access points of a construction site including scaffolding and ladders. Preventing unauthorised access onto scaffolding or other work platforms is crucial in this sense. Children, for example, can view building areas as a potential playground, not having a grasp of the dangers they could face. With this in mind, gaps between gates and the ground, and between fixed and moveable fencing should be minimised so small children cannot climb through or under.

Clients and contractors must ensure unauthorised access onto scaffolding is prevented, not just outside working hours, but also at times when workers are present but out of sight. These are principles long-established and set out in HSG151. All such routes may need to be secured by a combination of perimeter fencing, local fencing and ladder removal out of working hours. Or by securing ladders using a suitable ladder guard to make them un-climbable.

The HSE emphasize where reasonably practicable, unauthorised access onto a construction site should be prevented by site perimeter fencing. At ground level, the full length of the scaffold may need to be fenced. In addition, there should be no projecting first lift transoms or ledgers to aid climbing. They also state where ladders need to be used, it is good practice to install internal ladders or a ladder tower so each ladder serves a single lift. As an alternative measure – where it is not reasonably practicable to remove bottom lift ladders out of hours, a ladder guard may be a suitable alternative.

Site risk assessment should also carefully consider a range of appropriate controls to prevent or deter access. Examples in situations where the risk of unauthorised access is high are the use of:

  • Closed Circuit TV (CCTV);
  • CCTV with active monitoring to detect the presence of persons;
  • CCTV with active monitoring and loudspeakers allowing remote security monitoring and verbal intervention, and;
  • Security personnel either based on site or by visiting patrol.

The level of security needed and the options available will be affected by the location and nature of the construction work. HSE also remind members of the public, parents have a responsibility to take note of safety signs and other information regarding construction sites in their vicinity.

The full range of advice can be viewed at: www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/ladders-and-scaffold-security.htm