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Top tips for scaffolding safety

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Scaffolding is an essential part of many building projects but when working from such great heights, it’s important to take all the right safety precautions. There are occupational safety laws which outline the specific duties and responsibilities that employers must undertake to ensure their staff are protected.

Below are a few additional safety tips which will help to eliminate the possibility of accidents happening.

Give proper training

Regardless of whether someone has worked in construction for two days or twenty years, if they’ve never worked around scaffolding before it’s a safety requirement that they’re trained about it before they can access it. The training that they undergo will ensure that they know how to safely get on and off the scaffold as well as learn how to properly erect and dismantle it. Crucially, they will also learn fall protection and how to administer life-saving techniques if necessary.

Take the time to set up properly

Unfortunately, most construction projects do end up falling behind the initial timescale provided. This is no excuse to compromise on safety however. No matter how short you are on time, make sure the base is sound, level and adjusted. The legs and braces should all be in place, locking devices, ties, planks, decks and guardrails should all be secured and cross members should be level. Don’t forget to check for potential hazards as well including uneven ground and overhead wires.

Follow the legal requirements

If you’re a ‘rogue employer’ then all you are achieving is risking innocent employers’ lives. If you are an employer yourself then make sure the person you’re working for follows all the legal requirements when it comes to scaffolding safety – no job is worth life-changing or fatal injuries.

CSA standard committees state that you need a licence to operate. This is to ensure that companies aren’t importing materials from abroad without having them surveyed or reviewed by a professional engineer.

Know the load capacity

One of the biggest causes of scaffolding-related accidents is failure to consider all the loads the equipment will be subjected to. If the scaffolding hasn’t been built to withstand the weight it needs to, it could collapse. Don’t be tempted to squeeze extra workers, equipment or materials onto the scaffolding because the consequences could be disastrous.

Use guardrails

All scaffolding must incorporate guardrails on a minimum of the three sides facing away from the building if the scaffold is more than 10 feet above the ground. There is very good reason for this. When you’re hungry, tired or stressed you simply never know when you might take a wrong step. The guardrails are there to protect you should this happen.

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Undergo regular maintenance

Things move around, get bumped, become lose, get damaged and rust or wear away. For these very reasons it’s very important to inspect your scaffolding regularly. Make this a standard and regularly check, make sure that it gets signed off so you can be certain it’s getting done. Taking five or 10 minutes out of your day really could save someone’s life.