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Scaffolding Safety Tips: Raising Your Safety Protocols

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Whether your company uses cutting-edge hydraulic scaffolds or old-school metal and bracket platform scaffolding, scaffolds are among the most useful and most dangerous types of construction equipment used on job sites. Accidents, however, are largely preventable. 

Here are some ways that your company can raise your scaffold safety protocols to keep your safety records as high as your scaffolds:

Daily Checks

Many scaffolding injuries occur several days after scaffolds have been initially used on a job site. The lapse between when these accidents occur and when the scaffolding was initially used is often the result of failing to check the equipment every day.

Safety Log: Task a member of your team with logging and inspecting your scaffolding equipment every day before anyone climbs onto the scaffold. This daily inspection should be more than a cursory glance and nod at the scaffolding. Developing a checklist that looks for the following telltale signs of danger should be measured and recorded on a daily basis: 

  1. Level: When scaffolding integrity becomes compromised, the earliest signs are often slight sagging. Assessing that platforms are level can help you catch these vulnerabilities before someone is hurt.
  2. 90-degree corners: Similar to leveling, scaffolding integrity wavers when corners at the base of the scaffold are not 90 degrees. 
  3. Wind readings: Due to the raised nature of scaffolds, wind can often twist, loosen, and compromise scaffold safety mechanisms. Recording the wind velocity and direction every day can be an easy way to track the stress placed on the scaffolding.
  4. Fluid: If you're using a hydraulic scaffold, checking the lift's fluid levels can help you track any wear and tear on the machinery. Many accidents involving hydraulic lifts occur when lift fluid levels begin to leak. 

This safety log should be completed every day before anyone is approved to use the scaffolding. If you're working with a larger crew, it can be important to assign the role of checking and logging this data to several members of your crew, which can ensure that an unforeseen absence doesn't lead to a safety liability. 

Safety Equipment

Although many scaffold accidents involve dangerous falls, they also involve a host of other accidents that can be prevented by using some basic safety equipment.

PPE: Personal protection equipment (PPE) includes safety equipment designed for each member of your team. To prevent falling equipment from above hurting someone below, outfitting your crew with properly fitting helmets can prevent catastrophic head injuries. Additionally, steel toe work boots with grippy soles can help prevent dangerous slips and broken toes. 

Safety Harnesses: Similar to climbing equipment, you can equip your scaffolds with safety harnesses that clip onto your scaffolding guard rails. These safety harnesses should be easy to clip and unclip. 

In addition to providing your crew with this essential safety equipment, you must develop a culture on your job site of safety first. If this equipment isn't used or if it is used improperly, it won't prevent accidents. 

Weight Watchers

Scaffolding equipment is rated with specific load requirements. When you exceed these load requirements, your scaffolding equipment runs the risk of collapsing or buckling at any moment. Unfortunately, you can't put your scaffolding on a scale to track the load placed on it.

Scale at the ready: Before anything or anyone goes onto your scaffolding, it must be weighed. This weight should be recorded and tracked (see the Daily Checks). Because active job sites can be somewhat chaotic, you should have an industrial scale near your scaffolding at all times. You must train your crew how to track this data and what the specific load requirements are for your scaffolds. 

To learn more about scaffolding, contact a company like Savage Scaffold & Equipment Co.