When workers must operate above ground level, safety becomes a top priority. Scaffolding is an excellent tool that creates opportunities to be productive, but it can also be dangerous to operate on these platforms.
About 4,500 scaffolding-related injury incidents occur annually in the construction industry. These issues result in about $90 million in lost workdays, medical expenses, and more.
Most scaffolding accidents are preventable. An ounce of prevention goes a long way toward having prepared workers who can stay safe when using this tool.
That’s why these scaffolding safety rules are crucial to implement for today’s workforce.
Safety Tips for Safe Scaffolding Use
1. Always use the correct safety equipment.
Personal protective equipment is essential to use when working in a construction or industrial setting. Most injuries that involve scaffolding involve a falling object. When workers have a hard hat on at all times, this one resource can prevent many serious injuries.
Workers should also wear fall arrest equipment, non-slip footwear, and other safety items based on the conditions at the job site.
2. Remember the load limits.
Scaffolding products get built to a specific load-bearing capability. If you erect components that don’t meet the demands of your job, the workers who are at height are automatically at a higher risk of a severe injury.
Some of the signs of a load-bearing problem include cracking, bending, or breakage. These symptoms can indicate an imminent collapse is about to occur.
3. Know the regulations.
Each industry has specific standards, regulations, and codes to follow. These rules vary by state, province, and community, so it is up to everyone to perform their due diligence in this area. If your scaffolding doesn’t meet expectations, the result could be a fine, injuries, or worse.
Before setting up scaffolding materials, inspect everything to ensure it complies. Even if you suspect something could have a defect or damage, don’t use it. It’s not worth compromising the structural integrity of the unit.
4. Stay organized.
It helps to have all equipment and tools organized on scaffolding. Heavy products should have a safety cable or harness attached to them to ensure they don’t fall. Workers should take similar precautions with their tools.
Once the work is complete for the day, please remember to check to see if any materials or tools were left behind. These items often lead to tripping injuries.
5. Think about the weather.
When workers are at height, they must have confidence in the conditions at the job site. Anyone working on scaffolding when harsh weather or environmental hazards are present is at risk of a potential injury.
If high winds have brought down power lines in the area, you can have confidence that it has the power to do the same to your scaffolding.
6. Get your licenses.
When contractors have all their licenses, injuries get prevented because everyone becomes more aware of the potential hazards that exist in the area. It helps to encourage an environment where everyone works together to mitigate the potential issues that could lead to future problems.
7. Keep the heavy equipment clear.
Any heavy equipment and vehicles should be kept clear of the scaffold’s base. It helps to create barriers that deliver some extra room to work to prevent someone from accidentally running into it.
It only takes one collision to cause an entire scaffold to topple from the base. If you must have heavy equipment standing by, it helps to have enough clearance available so that everyone can operate safely.
8. Inspect the site and the equipment again.
Once you have the scaffold erected, the inspection work doesn’t cease. You should have at least one person designated for regular safety checks to ensure the structure remains safe to use.
The working area should get checked for debris, defects, and hazards that could cause potential problems. Although the best time to perform this inspection is at the beginning of the workday, it is helpful to have one during the lunch break and another at the end of the shift.
9. Encourage responsible climbing.
Workers like to blow off some steam by joking around and doing silly things while working. Although that’s fine to an extent, you should have clear policies and procedures in place that dictate responsible climbing. One of the first rules should be to always have three points of contact with the scaffolding.
When you follow appropriate scaffolding safety rules, you’ll be proactively working to reduce injuries at the worksite. Since each situation is different, please remember to follow all regulations and requirements as they pertain to your unique circumstances.
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