Within the construction industry, safety harnesses have become incredibly important in reducing the number of deaths and injuries related to working from height – this is because they distribute the impact of a fall evenly across your body whilst also acting as a preventative measure.
Before you work at height, it’s important to conduct a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate measures to prevent a nasty fall. In most situations, a safety harness is essential for your own security and protection. But is it necessary to wear a safety harness when working on a scaffold tower?
Do I need to wear a safety harness on a scaffold tower?
The extra safety precautions and features of a scaffold tower mean you don’t have to wear a safety harness. In comparison to a ladder, a scaffold may take longer to set up, but it does reduce your risk of falling from height and sustaining an injury due to its surface area and stability. The risk of falling from height is minimised as long as the tower is erected properly.
In fact, it would be unsafe to use a safety harness on a scaffold tower. There are no anchor points on the tower for a person to attach a harness to – if you were to fall from a scaffold tower, you would pull the tower, and anyone else using it, down on top of you!
If you don’t have a solid anchor point for your harness, you can easily cause a weight imbalance which increases your risk of injury.
Why would I use a scaffold tower instead of a ladder?
You would use a scaffold tower instead of a ladder when:
- You need to work at height for more than 30 mins
- You need greater freedom of movement when working at height
- You are unable to stabilise your ladder
To ensure safety when using a ladder, you must always maintain three points of contact. This is not essential with a scaffold tower due to its sturdiness, meaning that you can easily carry out fiddly work that requires the use of both of your hands.
How do I ensure that I’m safe on a scaffold tower?
The best way to ensure your safety on a scaffold tower is to use the ‘Through The Trap’ (3T) method. This is a method endorsed by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive). If you use this method, you are not required to wear and use a safety harness as it is a PASMA (prefabricated access suppliers’ and manufacturers’ association)-approved method of assembly.
What is the ‘Through The Trap’ (3T) method?
By using this method of assembly, the assembler sits on the platform trapdoor to add or remove any guard rails above. By doing so, the assembler is protected from standing on any unprotected platforms.
Once the guard rails are secured in place, the assembler can then climb onto the platform and proceed to construct the next level. This method offers the assembler a greater sense of protection and safety, throughout scaffold tower assembly and deconstruction.
Is the 3T method reliable?
Yes, the 3T method is so reliable that it is even endorsed by the HSE and PASMA. As long as you have done the necessary risk assessments and followed the method’s instructions, there should be no need for you to use any safety harnesses or lanyards.
In fact, both PASMA and the HSE strongly advise against using a safety harness, or even a safety lanyard, on a scaffold tower. If you have used the ‘Through The Trap’ (3T) method, which ensures that the guardrails have been correctly installed, then the tower has collective fall protection – in this instance, personal fall protection is not necessary.