Scaffolding training makes sense for a number of reasons. First of all, as a construction business owner you want your workers to have adequate scaffolding training to prevent accidents on the job for which you as the business owner will be responsible. Accidents happen unexpectedly as that is their nature and are never a happy event either for the person who has the accident, or for the business owner who may end up facing legal action as a result of using untrained staff to work on scaffolds. It is law in South Africa that construction companies abide by the construction regulations that are part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of the country and proper training in scaffolding use is part of this. Regardless, no one wants to acquire an injury, let alone die, on duty which is why prevention through proper training is infinitely better than cure!
Experienced construction workers working on scaffolds can make the job look so easy, particularly from down below where the observer has both feet on the ground, but it really isn’t. Workers can be hundreds of metres off the ground, working in windy conditions with only a metal framework between them and the ground. Harnesses are an absolute must, as are helmets and goggles to keep construction dust and grit out the eyes, but what is the correct equipment worth if it’s not being correctly used, or even used at all? Workers may underestimate the importance and value of using their protective clothing and equipment correctly, and not use it correctly, which is a recipe for disaster in the long run.
This is where proper scaffolding training comes in. It not only teaches workers how to construct scaffolding but how to use it correctly to ensure their safety. Trainees learn how to erect scaffolding so that it provides a firm and steady framework at all times, as well as how to stack and store it on the ground. Workers also learn about different types of scaffolding and their load-bearing capacities and should be tested on their knowledge both practically and theoretically, if possible. Ideally, workers should receive proper training during their induction into a company and workers with experience should be sent on refresher courses. Business owners looking to send workers on scaffolding training courses can find companies offering training on the internet but should first make sure that companies offering scaffolding training are accredited by regulatory bodies.
A final word to DIY home construction enthusiasts: just because you’re doing it yourself doesn’t mean you’re exempt from scaffolding training. You may think the job you’re working on isn’t located high enough up to present a danger, but you never know. The husband of a friend of my mother’s fell off a single-storey scaffold while painting gutters and broke his leg. The poor man now walks with a limp and his gutters still aren’t painted because it took months for his leg to heal and now he doesn’t have the heart to climb up that scaffolding again to finish the job.