Understanding the Vital Role of Manual Handling for Scaffolding utilising NASC SG6:22

nasc sg6:22


Highlighting Advice for Manual Handling In Scaffolding

A significant portion of the injuries annually reported by NASC (National Access & Scaffolding Confederation) members to regulatory bodies are linked to manual handling, as demonstrated by NASC‘s analysis indicating that a majority of scaffold-related manual handling injuries involve sprains and strains affecting the upper body, including the shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, and fingers.

The repetitive nature of scaffold operations often leads to long-term effects and work-related upper limb disorders (WRULDs) among scaffolders, highlighting the impact of poor handling techniques. This has contributed to a perception of scaffolding as a physically demanding occupation primarily suited for younger individuals, as many leave the industry early due to manual handling-related injuries or health issues.

Manual handling stands out as the most significant occupational health hazard confronting the scaffolding sector today. Due to the strain involved in their work, only some scaffolders continue to work until retirement age.

Scaffolders regularly lift and manoeuvre scaffolding materials in various conditions, making manual handling an intrinsic aspect of their trade. The specialised skills and techniques employed by scaffolders when handling heavy and cumbersome materials represent fundamental abilities within the scaffolding industry.

On a typical workday, a scaffolding team may handle upwards of 15 tonnes of materials. In comparison, an individual scaffolder could manage over 150,000 tonnes throughout their career, equivalent to the weight of Cunard’s cruise ship, the Queen Mary II.

Given the physical demands of the job, scaffolders must remain mentally vigilant about the potential risks inherent in their physically taxing roles.

Several factors within scaffolding contribute to the complexity of manual handling tasks. Scaffolders often find themselves:

  • Supporting loads in challenging positions.
  • Moving cumbersome and weighty materials.
  • Transporting loads across uneven surfaces or within confined spaces.
  • Performing highly repetitive actions.

Certain items of scaffolding material, such as 6.4m (21ft) scaffold tubes, 3.9m (13ft) scaffold boards, loose fitting bags, long ladders, or beams, require specialised handling techniques to prevent injuries. While scaffolders must possess specific physical capabilities, many strenuous, awkward, or unwieldy tasks rely more on specialised techniques than raw strength.

The recommendations outlined in the guidance aim to assist scaffolding operatives and their employers in mitigating the risk of injuries and long-term health issues associated with manual handling within the scaffolding industry.

manual handing scaffolding

Let’s delve into why the NASC SG6:22 Management of Manual Handling in the Scaffolding Industry Training Manual is indispensable for anyone involved in manual handling activities in scaffolding:


Industry-Specific Focus: Unlike generic manual handling guidelines, SG6:22 is explicitly designed for the unique challenges and requirements of the scaffolding sector. It takes into account the nature of scaffolding work, the equipment involved, and the potential risks associated with manual handling tasks in this environment.

Risk Assessment and Mitigation: The guide emphasises the importance of thorough risk assessment before undertaking any manual handling tasks. It provides a structured framework for identifying potential hazards, evaluating risks, and implementing effective control measures to minimise the likelihood of accidents or injuries.

Best Practices and Techniques: SG6:22 outlines best practices and recommended techniques for safe manual handling in scaffolding. This includes proper lifting and carrying methods, the use of mechanical aids where necessary, and strategies for avoiding overexertion and musculoskeletal strain.

Training and Competency: The guide underscores the significance of training and competency among personnel involved in manual handling. It outlines the essential knowledge and skills that workers should possess and provides guidance on ongoing training and refresher courses to maintain competency levels.

Legal Compliance: By adhering to the guidelines outlined in the guide, scaffolding companies and workers demonstrate their commitment to legal compliance. It aligns with regulatory requirements and industry standards, reducing the risk of non-compliance penalties and ensuring a safer working environment.

Continuous Improvement: The guide promotes a culture of continuous improvement in manual handling practices. It encourages regular reviews, feedback mechanisms, and learning from incidents or near-misses to enhance safety protocols and operational efficiency over time.

In conclusion, the NASC SG6:22 Management of Manual Handling in the Scaffolding Industry Training Guide serves as a comprehensive and invaluable resource for promoting safe and effective manual handling practices within the scaffolding industry. Safety and Access recommend following its guidelines so stakeholders can mitigate risks, protect workers’ health and well-being, and contribute to a culture of excellence and compliance in scaffolding operations.

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