Scaffolding is frequently used at construction sites, as it supports existing structures and makes it easier for construction workers to access out-of-the-way work areas. Since scaffolding is a temporary structure, workers must use caution when setting it up and using it for their day-to-day work activities. Safety is so important that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a set of rules governing the safe use of scaffolding at construction sites. If you use scaffolding at your job, here are five ways to do so safely.
1. Pay close attention to the assembly instructions. Several major manufacturers make scaffolding for construction companies, and not all scaffolding products are the same. Many construction companies even rent their scaffolding instead of buying it, so you may have to work with several types in the course of a few months. If your company uses scaffolding rentals, make sure you pay close attention to the instructions when you are ready to assemble the equipment. Putting the scaffolding together correctly ensures that it can support any existing structures and hold up to everyday use.
2. Use fall protection when required. If you will be working on scaffolding that is 10 feet or more above a lower level, your employer is required to provide fall protection, which can prevent you from falling and sustaining serious injuries. Some employers use guardrail systems to prevent construction workers from walking off the side of the scaffolding, while others provide belts, harnesses, and other fall-protection devices. The foreman at your job site will determine which type of fall protection is most appropriate. If your employer provides fall protection, make sure you use it according to the instructions.
3. Maintain a solid grip when you are climbing. The experts at Construction Pro Tips recommend using a three-point grip. In simple terms, the three-point grip ensures that three of your extremities are always in contact with the scaffolding. One grip keeps one of your hands and both of your feet on the scaffolding while another grip keeps both of your hands and one of your feet on the scaffolding. Alternate these three-point grips as you climb to reduce your risk of falling.
4. Wear a hardhat and steel-toed boots. When discussing scaffolding safety, many construction workers mention the importance of using guardrails and other fall-protection systems. Taking these steps is an important part of staying safe, but don't forget about the risk of getting hurt by an object falling on you from a set of scaffolding. If the item is heavy, it can cause serious injuries, especially if it hits you in the head. Wearing your hardhat and a pair of steel-toed boots can protect you from injuries in the event that an object falls from scaffolding while you are working on a lower level.
5. Avoid leaving tools and supplies on the scaffolding when you are working elsewhere. Speaking of falling objects, don't forget to put away your tools and supplies when you are done using them. If you leave them on the scaffolding, there is a chance that they will fall on you while you are working below, resulting in broken bones, head injuries, and other serious problems. Removing tools from the scaffolding can also prevent your coworkers from tripping over them, making your work site even safer.
Without scaffolding, it would be impossible to complete many construction jobs, from repairing older buildings to erecting new ones. Whether you buy your own scaffolding or buy it from one of the scaffold rental services in your area, it is your responsibility to use it safely. Follow these tips to prevent falls and avoid injuries caused by falling objects.