According to data released by OSHA, almost 70% of construction workers frequently perform their duties on scaffolding. Some employees spend their entire shift on this resource.
Although scaffold manufacturing practices have continued improving over the years, they can still be dangerous places to be when safety precautions aren’t followed. About 4,500 workers get injured each year, with approximately 50 fatalities included in that number.
A well-built aluminum scaffold is not inherently dangerous. When the safety rules don’t get followed, shortcuts are taken, or policies are not followed, the risks rise for a hazardous situation to develop.
When you and your people know the potential hazards and follow appropriate procedures, risk minimization occurs. Although nothing can eliminate every possible problem or injury, the following ideas can eliminate the most preventable issues.
How Can I Implement Workplace Safety Procedures for Scaffolds?
1. Create a training environment.
Aluminum scaffolds require erection, movement, dismantling, and maintenance. These tasks must get performed in specific ways to ensure that everyone stays safe. This need is best addressed through a mandatory training environment. Although not everyone needs to complete competent person training, it does help to have designated people who can oversee and coordinate your scaffolding work.
The training for workers who use the aluminum scaffolding should focus on its correct use. Do they know how to handle tools and materials when working on it? Your classes should cover load ratings, how to use fall-protection equipment, and how to recognize potential hazards.
2. Always follow the instructions.
It is not unusual for workers to become so familiar with aluminum scaffolds that they assume all applications and systems are the same. Although there is some overlap between manufacturers, each product has different instructions to follow.
Workers might interchange components from a different manufacturer when they can’t find a specific part to work with the scaffolding they’re using. Since each system is engineered differently, there isn’t a guarantee that the product can maintain its structural integrity.
As a general rule, a scaffold becomes unstable once the height reaches four times the length of the shortest part. That’s assuming it has the correct base, is plumb, and has been correctly assembled.
3. Think about the hazards.
The hazards associated with aluminum scaffolds involve the operating environment, the tasks performed, and local variables that include tools, individual fitness, and unpredictable factors.
For most scaffolds, the biggest hazard is a fall. That’s why protective equipment and guardrails are required when the apparatus has a working platform at least ten feet above the ground or the next level.
Access to a scaffold is a common hazard that gets overlooked. The bracing cannot be an access point, which means the potential for slips from ladders, stairs, or rest platforms increases.
4. Use tagging systems.
When the competent person is on-site with the aluminum scaffold, they’re also responsible for providing instructions to the workers about safety. This process usually involves attaching color-coded tags to the product.
- Green tags typically signify that the scaffold was inspected and determined to be safe for its intended use.
- Red tags should be considered a warning that the platforms aren’t safe for occupancy. This issue could be due to the environment, a problem with the construction, or that it’s still being erected.
- Yellow tags tell workers that a scaffold is safe to use under specific conditions. It might serve as a reminder to use fall protection, identify trip hazards, or manage other similar issues.
5. Keep inspecting.
One of the most crucial responsibilities of the competent person at the worksite is to inspect the scaffolding. It must be completed daily, and it’s often necessary to complete this task several times daily. Whenever challenging weather conditions or environmental changes occur, it’s often required to take another look at the product.
When multiple shifts use the same scaffold, a competent person should be available for each one.
If a red or yellow tag is found from the previous shift, an inspection should be conducted to determine if it is still necessary.
Respect the Complexity of the Modern Aluminum Scaffold
Although aluminum scaffolds seem like a straightforward structure, they use complex engineering to create results. They work with the optimal interaction of several forces to help workers and businesses stay productive at height.
That’s why it is essential for workplace safety procedures to get developed. Whether it’s during the erection phase, used when secure, or getting disassembled, all employees should receive proper supervision when working.
By respecting the complexity of this technology, it is much easier to reduce equipment damage and injury risks.
Choose the right scaffold keeping the safety on mind from the followings.
I am glad that you mentioned following instructions on individual scaffolds and making sure they are assembled correctly and safely. My husband works with a construction crew and they will need a scaffold for a big project they are working on. I think it would be smart for them to consult a professional so they get the best and safest equipment for their needs.