Not a lot of people realise but working in construction has long been one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. People doing jobs in this field have to take a lot of risks each day, with even the threat of falling objects being enough to put a lot of people off of the idea of working on a building site.
Of course, though, some elements of this job are riskier than others, and those working in this field have to be particularly careful when they’re working at great heights and in confined spaces.Stairwells incorporate both of these elements, especially when they’re still being built, and this leaves a lot of workers at risk of serious injuries if they don’t take the right steps. To help you out with this, we’re going to be exploring some of the best tips for those who want to learn how to work in stairwells safely.
Construction isn't the only industry that requires safe working within stairwells. Facilities management often requires maintenance work at height, within stairwells or on roofs.
When looking at issues like safety in the workplace, it often makes sense to look at the legal side of things as your first port of call. There are strict laws in place in the UK which dictate how jobs have to be handled if you’re working at heights.
HSE states that the employer is responsible for making sure that employees are given the right equipment and training to deal with heights, while also having to make sure that the job being done is planned out to make sure that it can be handled as safely as possible.
Employees also have some responsibility here, and it will be crucial that they are working to look after themselves and those around them. In a tight space like a stairwell, everyone will have to be extra careful not to let their work dangerously impact their colleagues.
Leaving things to chance simply isn’t worth it when people are working at heights. Even if someone survives a fall, the implications of an accident like this can be lifelong, leaving people disabled or in pain for the rest of their days. Thankfully, there is plenty of equipment on the market which can help you with this, ensuring that those who have to work at heights are kept as safe as possible.
- Stairwell Platforms: One of the biggest challenges workers find when working in stairwells is the limited space they have for their feet. This can make it very dangerous to work on things above you, as you simply won’t have the same balance that you’d have on level ground. Stairwell platforms can solve this problem, adding a larger floor area to your stairwell which will be anchored to the building incredibly securely. These platforms are designed to ensure that they can easily be removed to provide an emergency escape route, while also making it nice and easy to move large building materials up and down the stairs. Safety rails make it much harder for people to fall, while also having the chance to catch people if they do find themselves off balance.
- Scaffold Towers: When stairwells are still being constructed or you have to reach much higher ceilings, a scaffold tower could be the best tool for the job. Designed to be incredibly stable and secure, these structures offer a safe place for you to work when you’re in an environment like a stairwell. You can find a huge range of different types of scaffold towers, and some will be better in confined spaces than others. It can be a good idea to look for options which feature support beams, as these will ensure that the scaffold can’t fall over. Some will even be able to adapt the shape and height of the stairwell you’re working in, and these are also a good choice. HSE has a good range of recommended scaffolds for this type of work, making it worth looking for their advice if you’re unsure about the sort of thing you want to buy.
At Oxford Safety Systems, our main product for working within stairwells is the SPS Stairwell Protection System. This is based around the stairwell platform design and has the following key features:
- Telescopic to fit different size opening
- Two frame sizes so we can accommodate stair openings from 1.400 metres – 5.000 metres, systems can be joined together
- Single Trellis mat fits any size the frame opens up to (one single platform accommodates the telescopic frame)
- Between the two systems we can accommodate 98% of all residential stair types.
- Oxford safety carry out training as part of delivery along with illustrated method statement
- All system uniquely coded for traceability
- Maintenance carried out for both sale and hire (chargeable)
- Free access up and down the stair without need to remove the frame
- Quickly installed
- Tested spread load of 1.5 tons
- Can be installed with or without stairs installed
- Telescopic handrail system supplied if required
- Can be installed as an independent system (works when balustrading installed)
- Engineered for durability for real site conditions
- Designed with end user in mind
Maintaining safety in the workplace is extremely important. Many people get injured at work, and far too many companies are overly lax with this side of their work. When employees are your most crucial asset, though, it makes a lot of sense to look after them, and this only gets more crucial as buildings get larger and larger. As time goes on, more safety options are bound to hit the market. This makes it a good idea to keep your eyes on this field, while also making sure that you keep up with any changes in legislation.