Essential Safety Measures When Working on Scaffolding

Published On: 18th March 2013

Accidents can happen when working on scaffolding. Someone could get hurt or worse get killed while a scaffolding is in use. However, these things can be prevented if essential safety measures are taken prior to and during the process of construction.

Scaffolding is an important part of any construction job. This temporary work platform helps support workers, materials and equipment in a way that ladders would not allow. Despite its straightforward use, though, scaffolding is one of the highest-risk areas for construction workers because they are working off the ground. In fact, a lot of injuries and deaths involving scaffolding happen every year.

Fortunately, such fatalities can be prevented if employers, contractors and workers take safety precautions prior to and while working on the platform. Hence, if you are involved in a construction project, carefully follow the safety measures outlined below to ensure the safe use of scaffolding.

Ensure all workers are properly trained

As per industry standards, scaffolding should only be erected, dismantled or accessed by workers who have been properly trained under the supervision of an industry expert. Everyone who will be working on the platform  should have a clear understanding of its design and operations and should also know safe work practices, including correct procedures when dealing with electrical and fall hazards, use of personal fall arrest systems and the load-carrying capacity of the scaffolding being used.

Do not skip on the prep work

Proper preparation is the key to ensuring a safe and stable scaffolding. So before using the platform, be sure that its base is level and properly adjusted and its legs are stable. This will help minimize the risk of workers losing their balance. The entire structure should also be adequately secured to the building where work will be done and proper access points should be provided. The right locking mechanisms should also be used and should never be replaced with nails or other miscellaneous parts to avoid them from dislodging. Equally important is that the platform has secure guardrails in place. As a rule of thumb, there should be guardrails on three sides facing away from the building, with each side having top, middle and bottom rails.

As for the ground condition, the area on which the scaffold stands should be clear of slopes or surface elevation and it should not be obstructed by overhead utility lines to avoid problems later on.

Respect the load capacity

Special attention should be given to the loads to which the scaffolding will be subjected to. Scaffolding has a maximum intended load carrying capacity and this should be followed with great care. Do not to overload the platform with equipment and materials and never attempt to fit more workers than it is capable of handling to prevent the structure from collapsing.

Use the right protection and use common sense when working on scaffolding

Anyone working on scaffolding should wear the right protective gear. This include head protection, non-slip protective footwear and fall arrest system. Also, while working on the platform, it is best move around slowly to maintain balance. All the materials and equipment used on the scaffolding should be properly stored after a day’s work as they can become trip hazards if left lying on the platform.

This article was contributed by Ericka for www.steelbuildingsuk.co.uk. Ericka is an avid writer who has written a number of posts regarding a wide variety of topics. However, she is particularly interested in writing about home improvement and general construction.