Scaffolding Safety & Best Practices to Prevent Accidents
Scaffolding is one of the most commonly used tools in the construction industry, with almost 65 percent of workers using scaffolds frequently. Nearly 2.3 million construction workers work on scaffolds on a regular basis, including steel erectors, building equipment installers, bricklayers, window washers, carpenters, and painters. Because construction sites are inherently unstable environments, it’s extremely important to provide workers with proper construction scaffolding safety education. In fact, education and training is the best tool for preventing or reducing the number of scaffold-related accidents.
Why does scaffolding have the potential to be so dangerous? There are two basic types of scaffolds, supported, and suspended. Supported scaffolds consist of platforms with rigid, load-bearing supports like poles, legs, frames, or outriggers. Suspended scaffolds have platforms that are suspended by ropes or other non-rigid overhead support. There are other types of scaffolds, like man lifts, cherry pickers, and scissor lifts, but these can be considered supported scaffolds. With all scaffolds, there are four basic risks. The scaffold can overturn or collapse, workers can fall from scaffolds, objects can fall from scaffolds and strike people, or electrocution can occur, usually, because the scaffold is too close to power lines. So, what are the best practices for preventing these accidents? Here are some guidelines for supported and suspended scaffolding.
- Inspect the scaffold before using it, making sure it’s in safe working condition and hasn’t been altered.
- Train those using erected scaffolds and platforms to continuously inspect them.
- Enter and leave work platforms with caution.
- Avoid overloading scaffolds, following manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Never jump onto planks or platforms.
- Don’t use makeshift devices or ladders or plank guardrails to increase a scaffold’s height.
- Only climb in access areas, and always use both hands.
- Properly use personal fall arrest equipment.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Never overload, modify, or substitute equipment.
- Before starting work, preload wire rope and equipment with the maximum working load, then retighten wire rope clips and recheck rigging.
- Inspect rigging and scaffolding daily.
- Inspect wire rope for damage during ascents and descents.
- Prevent damage from corrosive or damaging substances.
- Service and clean equipment regularly.
- Maintain at least four wraps of wire rope on drum hoists.
- Never join platforms unless they’re designed for that purpose.
- Only move suspended scaffolds horizontally when they’re unoccupied.
- Ensure sufficient wire rope is available before moving the scaffold horizontally.
Founded in 1998, Scaffold Resource, LLC has been a fixture and growing force in the Mid-Atlantic region’s scaffold industry for over two decades. The company has successfully grown in its ability to provide a vast array of vertical access services, implementing a three-fold base of growth. Through vast professional experience, willingness and ability to use innovative approaches for difficult jobs, and a mandate that makes safety the primary responsibility, Scaffold Resource has produced many successful and well-publicized projects. Contact us through our website or call 301-924-7223 to learn how the “Scaffold Resource Difference” can work for you.