Working on scaffolding can be dangerous work for regular industry professionals. Heavy supplies, long work-days and the logistics of height can all add to the risk of the job. Today at least, there are plenty of guidelines, and standards of practice that help to minimise these risks, and though injuries still occur, they are lower than they have ever been. Let’s keep it that way!
Having scaffolding is one thing, but using it safely requires input from workers. It’s always important that anyone working with scaffolding has appropriate training so that they know how to work safely and deal with any problems that may arise. Whether you require commercial scaffolding or residential scaffolding, ensure that all of your workers are trained and competent when working at height to reduce risk.
1. Always use safety gear
Hard hats and harnesses should be worn at all times to prevent worker injury. Also consider: Eye protection if there is a risk of loose material/flying debris. Protective boots and hand protection where there is work involving hazardous chemicals, extreme heat, cold or electrical currents.
2. Understand weight capacity
Most scaffolding structures are exceptionally strong but they don’t have unlimited weight capacity. Workers should always be aware of overloading their structures as too much load and too many workers can be dangerous for all involved.
3. Work as a team
When multiple workers are involved on a scaffolding site, teamwork is critical. Scaffolds generally offer limited space and so it’s important for everyone to work cohesively to remain safe. Everyone should be mindful of their role and experience on the site, and know how to help each other if required to get the job done safely and effectively. Appropriate levels of supervision should be provided based on the complexity of the work involved.
4. Don’t use the scaffolding as a ladder
A bit obvious really, but it does get overlooked or ignored in favour of convenience. Climbing on the outside of scaffolding is never safe, and appropriate ladders should always be used and made available. Ladders should be accessible and in close proximity to remove the temptation to climb the scaffolding.
5. Be aware of what’s above and below
Hard hats and PPE aren’t a guarantee of protection. Workers must always be aware of potential hazards from above, and below. This includes on the scaffold itself, compounded dirt, mud and rain for instance can create slippery conditions and at height a small slip can soon become a lot worse.
6. Create a convenient working environment
Often with scaffolding the temptation is to get the structure up, and get the job done quickly. However it’s easy to overlook creating a comfortable working environment and this can be when objects fall, get in the way and create hazards. A workbench from leftover scaffolding planks is a simple way to create a convenient place to put tools and materials so that they aren’t all over the floor – creating a risk of tripping. This is particularly beneficial when work is taking place over several days.
7. Don’t use boxes and crates for “a little extra height”
This happens far too often when workers want to reach that little bit higher, but it’s simply not worth the risk, and does cause injury.