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5 Essential Scaffolding Safety Tips

While infinitely safer than relying on ladders and luck, working on a scaffold remains a dangerous project if you don’t take the proper precautions. At all times you’re working at a height, there is always the risk (however small) of slipping and falling from your scaffolding platform. If you’re working on a multi-storey project, tools and equipment can drop from the upper levels, causing serious injury if they hit you. Tripping hazards, loose wires, and other things that would be minor risks in any other environment are all exacerbated when you’re working on a scaffold.

In this article, we will give you seven key pieces of fundamental scaffolding safety advice that will show you how to stay safe when using scaffolding:

Inspect your scaffolding

Before the scaffold is even erected, you have the opportunity to ensure the safety of you and your team. Check all the poles, joints, and platforms for signs of wear, damage, or deterioration. While scaffolding components are designed to last, even the most resilient materials erode over time. Check for rust spots, dents, loose connectors, and more to ensure the structural integrity of your scaffold.

Build your scaffold properly

As anybody who has been in the scaffolding business or the general construction industry will know, there is an entire list of health and safety regulations concerned with working at height. When erecting a scaffold, it’s important to ensure that the rig you’re building complies with those regulations. Every scaffold should be designed from scratch to meet the unique requirements of the project in hand. Likewise every scaffolding build should follow that design (and the manufacturer’s instructions) to the letter. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts for the sake of convenience. What might seem meaningless to you could well be an integral part of the design.

For most large scale projects it is recommended to hire professional scaffolders to handle the job, just as you would hire expert contractors for any other aspect of the project. This way you know that they have the skills, tools, and experience to deliver the right results, and that they know how to properly inspect the finished product to ensure it is safe prior to use.

Wear the right safety equipment

When engaged in any kind of construction project, it is essential that you wear the right personal protective equipment (PPE), and working at height is no different. Since you run the risk of heavy items falling on you from the platform above, hard hats are crucial for preventing serious injury. Since the other major hazard on a scaffold is slipping and falling, you should also be wearing non-slip footwear. Certain jobs may also require the use of fall arrest equipment, including safety harnesses. Consult with your foreman or local HSE representative to confirm your responsibilities in this area.

Know your load limits

Scaffolds are designed to offer optimal support for workers and their equipment. This will have been determined at an early planning stage and the scaffolding designed and assembled accordingly. Sections and platforms can only safely bear a certain load before they risk breaking or collapsing, endangering everybody involved in the project. Be sure that you are not bringing too heavy a load onto the platform from which you’re working.

Keep vehicles and equipment clear

Vehicles and heavy equipment should only be near the base of your scaffolding if absolutely essential. All it takes is for a handbrake not to be engaged fully or a control panel to be accidentally nudged and one of these heavy devices could lurch forward and hit the scaffolding. The weight of impact behind a grab truck or a JCB is phenomenal and could easily cause the scaffold to collapse, bringing all the workers down with it.

Climb responsibly

Anybody scaling your scaffolding should have had the appropriate training to do so safely. This includes the “three-point contact” rule, where each worker must be able to make three points of contact with the scaffolding at any given time. This could be two feet and a hand, or two hands and a foot – either way, it’s the safest way to navigate a scaffold.

Keep clear of electrical boxes, wires, and machinery

Wires, machinery, and electrical boxes are a double threat on a scaffold. Not only are they potential trip hazards, they can also give you an electrical shock that could send you flying over the scaffolding edge. Of course, electrical equipment should always be treated with care and respect – if you’re on a scaffold, maybe a little bit more.

Scaffolding safety advice: final thoughts

Here at Cannock Wood Scaffolding, safety is at the heart of everything we do. Our team of professional scaffolders carefully test every pole, joint, and platform of each scaffold as it is being built, to ensure a safe working environment for our clients and their workers. If you want a domestic scaffolding or commercial scaffolding solution in Cannock, Stafford, or across the Staffordshire region that puts safety first, you have come to the right place. Contact the team today on 01543 379 112 or 07866 672 460 or send an email to cwscaff@gmail.com to receive a free, no-obligation quote.

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