Seven Best Practices for Scaffold Safety

Posted by
Lance Roux
on Feb 18, 2014

scaffolding safetyWorking on scaffolds is one of the major safety risks present on construction sites.  A recent article in Safety & Health Magazine points out the major hazards and makes suggestions for how to avoid them, which we will summarize below.

Hazards of working on scaffolds include falls, struck-bys, wind, and electrical hazards from being in proximity to power lines.  These hazards can be mitigated by engaging in the following best practices:

  1. Inspect the scaffold before use. Before use, a scaffold should be inspected by someone who is able to identify hazards to make sure that:
    • access on and off the scaffold meets OSHA requirements,
    • all work areas are fully planked and decked,
    • all guardrails are installed or alternative fall protection is provided, and that
    • the scaffold is guyed and  tied to the building correctly.
  2. Use fall protection and guardrails. Some workers think if the scaffold isn't far off the ground that they can't get hurt, but falls from as few as 6 feet can cause serious injury or death.  
  3. Avoid and prevent falling objects. Use toe boards around the scaffold to prevent objects from rolling off and striking someone below. Keep a clean workplace so the hazard of tripping or knocking something off the scaffold is reduced.
  4. Utilize wind screens on higher scaffolds. If the area is subject to winds of over 25mph, install a wind screen to prevent objects from being tossed around.  Absent a wind screen, a personal fall protection system can be used to address the risk from high winds.
  5. Keep a 10ft clearance between power lines and anything on the scaffold.
  6. Know the load limit of the scaffold and stay within it.  This includes the weight of the workers and of the materials being used on the scaffold.

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Tags: Fall Protection

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