A scaffold is a temporary structure used on construction sites during the repair or cleaning of a building. It consists of different layers of plywood supported by poles and two by fours with makeshift stairs for the crew to be able to reach different areas of the structure that is being repaired. While these are super common in building repairs, they can also be very dangerous for the crew and any nearby pedestrians if certain safety precautions are not taken into consideration. Construction scaffolds can be several stories high, so in order to maintain the safest work environment possible, be sure to follow these safety protocols.
One of the most important aspects of a safe work environment is inspecting the scaffold before it is used. The base needs to be secure and every guardrail and plank needs to be installed thoroughly and securely. There is no room to cut corners when you are using a scaffold, and the safety of the crew depends on it.
Every person working on or around a scaffold should receive adequate training before hand. This training should include how the scaffold is designed, how to get on and off, how to maneuver as needed, and how to prevent falls. There should also be training on the established protocol for responding to an emergency while on the scaffold. Being prepared is one of the most important parts of being safe!
Using the proper safety gear is crucial in maintaining a safe work environment. Every person on the scaffold should have on non slip footwear and head protection, and ideally, everyone should have on fall prevention gear as well. You can never be too careful when you are working on a scaffold, but because mistakes can be made, fall prevention gear might be the difference in a simple error and a tragic disaster.
Knowing Load Capacity
Understanding and adhering to your scaffolding structure’s load capacity is key to the safety of the people on and under the structure. Your scaffold is going to be rated for a specific amount of weight, but you have to keep in mind factors other than the people that are going to be on it. Various pieces of equipment and tools will be taken on and off the scaffold, and keeping track of what the weight capacity is in the process is vital. At no point should a scaffold ever be overloaded.
As your scaffolding gets higher and higher, keep in mind not only what is required, but also what is best for the safety of the construction site. Any scaffold structure over 10 feet high is required to have guardrailing on the three exposed sides of the structure, and it is advised to have a guardrail on the fourth side that is facing the building as well. Your protective fall gear with the addition of the guardrails should safeguard against any major falls, ensuring the safety of everyone involved.