Whether you work in residential, commercial, or industrial construction, your job responsibilities may involve working at heights. When some tasks are beyond your reach, you need a safe platform to access the work areas that are at different elevations. Often, it will require the use of a scaffold.
You may already know the importance of scaffolding in construction projects, enabling workers to navigate heights quickly. Although the structure offers stability, you should stay alert to the scaffolding safety precautions. The safety requirements ensure a secure workplace, empowering you to perform each task without incident. When paired with your working at heights training, you’ll be well-equipped with the basic rules of scaffolding safety.
Scaffold use can pose hazards on construction sites, but you can minimize the risks by following construction scaffolding safety guidelines. Here are six scaffolding safety precautions to remember before your next construction project:
Safety Precaution #1: Set up scaffolding securely.
No construction worker wants to feel endangered when they embark on an elevated platform. That’s why companies must pay attention to setting up the scaffolding as safely as possible. The structure must be erected correctly. Ensure your workforce includes competent person who knows how to install, secure and maintain the frames.
In addition, train all your workers on the safe use of scaffolding. A scaffolding safety course will teach your workforce how to maneuver around the structure safely. They will also learn to identify and avoid hazards when working at heights.
Safety Precaution #2: Inspect scaffolding diligently.
Being able to recognize an unsafe scaffold is as crucial as knowing how to use it. Before climbing up the structure, you should do a visual inspection of all the connected components. Your checkup includes sill plates, screw jacks, frames, braces, decking and planks, ladders, and guardrails. If you notice any unsecured parts, report to your supervisor immediately.
Construction site safety inspections are helpful to ensure the site is safe. Every morning, walk around the scaffolding and take a close look to make sure nothing has been altered or moved. A sensible safety precaution is to do another inspection if you’ve returned to the structure after taking an extended break.
Safety Precaution #3: Wear your PPE.
Your personal protective equipment (PPE) will maximize your safety when building a scaffold. The list of scaffolding PPE includes approved safety boots and fall protection harness and lanyard. Gloves and safety glasses are an added layer of protection to consider. This extra coverage is critical when working at heights because even a minor injury can cause enough distraction to lose footing.
Safety Precaution #4: Climb up scaffolding safely.
During your workday, you will have to climb up and down the scaffold multiple times. Ensure you use the approved climbing apparatus for the platform. There may be built-in rungs on the scaffold or an attached ladder. A separate ladder used for access must be approved for use in construction, secured top and bottom and set-up at a 1-4 ratio (base 1 foot out for every 4 feet of height). Keep three points of contact when you climb the scaffolding ladder.
As you move up, don’t carry materials or tools since they may impair your mobility. Instead, load your work equipment from one deck to the next, or use two people to pass along items. In addition, slow and steady motions are recommended. Don’t rush as you move up and down the scaffolding. Hastiness leads to careless mistakes that might put you at greater risk.
Safety Precaution #5: Work cautiously on scaffolding.
When working on solid ground, you can move around freely without the risk of falling from heights. It allows you to hustle and work faster when necessary. However, the conditions are different when you work from a scaffold. Every move should be deliberate so that you keep solid footing and don’t drop any materials.
If you are asked to work on a scaffold that feels unsafe, make sure to stop and report the situation immediately to a supervisor. Health and safety comes first, so stay alert while working on an elevated platform. Health and safety awareness training is a great way to understand the fundamentals of safety requirements in the workplace in addition scaffolding safety training.
Safety Precaution #6: Stay organized on the scaffolding.
While doing your construction work, you may accumulate materials, tools, and even garbage on the scaffolding deck. All materials must be stored safely to ensure nothing gets knocked off by accident. Even the smallest of objects that fall from height, can pose significant risks to anyone working or walking below.
Also, you should regularly remove garbage or extra equipment that is no longer needed. There is not much space when working on a scaffold, so keep the work area clear. Any excess materials can present a tripping hazard.