Scaffolding is a popular means by which workers can access high up areas of a building. As an alternative to using a ladder, this metal frame gives workers more freedom of movement and cuts down work time drastically.
However, any large metal object is going to come with hazards, especially the higher up it goes. Failure to properly use these platforms has resulted in numerous injuries and even deaths for those who are not careful.
Here are some important do’s and don’ts for using scaffolding safely.
DO make sure it has been inspected
The most important thing to do first is to make sure that a qualified person has fully inspected the frame to make sure it is safe for people to use. This person should have checked the level of ground underneath the frame and made sure that it is balanced evenly. They should also inspect the nuts and bolts to make sure they have been properly tightened.
DON’T assume that it is safe
Plenty of accidents have happened to people who simply assumed that a platform was properly set up. Nobody should climb up there until a competent person has done their inspection.
As work goes on, wear and tear can affect the frame, making it unsafe. Therefore regular inspections are required to spot any issues with it and prevent accidents.
DO wear safety equipment
The most obvious safety precaution is the use of a hard hat which should be mandatory on the worksite to begin with. Even the most careful and experienced workers can drop things accidentally. With a platform set up, more people will be working at higher levels, increasing the chance a loose tool or piece of debris can fall.
This includes wearing site approved shoes with steel toes and especially non-slip soles. This will prevent slipping on any wet areas or damage to the feet from falling objects.
Another important piece of safety equipment is fall protection. This comes in the form of a full body harness or fall arrest system. They should be safely anchored so that a fall is never more than six feet before it stops the user. These systems are designed to prevent injury and should always be used while on the platform.
DON’T leave hazards behind
As well as protecting oneself on the platform, efforts should be made not to create hazards for others. Leaving tools or materials up high leaves them open to falling and hitting someone.
People who were expecting a clean surface may slip on an item and hurt themselves. Tool lanyards are a great way to keep track of tools and make sure that they don’t accidentally fall.
DO use common sense
If anyone is working high up, its common sense to treat it more carefully than if it was the ground floor. Moving slowly and reporting movements to others are easy ways to prevent anyone running into each other.
This goes for moving up the platforms. Just because someone is working at the top doesn’t mean they can rush through the other floors. It’s important to be aware of the weight of the frame and how many people are using it at the same time.
DON’T exceed the weight limitations
The weight capacity of the scaffolding should always be respected. Having too many people, tools or materials can lead to it collapsing. This includes resting other items against the scaffold as this will add to the overall burden on it.
DO be aware of overhead power lines
Observe the clearance between the frame and any nearby power lines. Electrocutions are one of the most frequent causes of death on construction sites and can be easily avoided by not taking unnecessary risks.
If someone is unsure about the distance of the platform from a power line they should always check with their supervisor.
DON’T stand on other objects to increase height
If the platform isn’t raised high enough to reach the work then the issue should be taken to the supervisor and corrected. A worker should never attempt to stand on another object or bring a ladder onto the platform.
Scaffolding is as dangerous as it is useful. The higher up someone works the more care and protection they will need. With experience it is easy to become complacent and fall victim to a workplace accident.
The do’s and don’ts outlined above may appear to be simple to remember but are ultimately forgotten by far too many people. Extreme care should always be taken when attempting to use any scaffolding system.