Construction projects can be very expensive, however there’s no doubt that safety of workers is priceless. In one of the most accident prone industries, it’s imperative that construction workers follow the appropriate safety protocols to ensure that everyone working on the project goes home safely. Speed and efficiency is undoubtedly important, as every additional day of operation costs a lot of money, however it’s critical that workplace safety is never compromised.
The most common causes of accidents and injuries on construction sites relate to scaffolding. Falls from heights, collapsed scaffolding, falling objects such as tools and work materials, and electrocution are regretfully common, so this guide will provide 7 simple scaffolding safety tips that can prevent the majority of these accidents that typically occur on construction sites.
- Review the Site and Identify Hazards
When it comes to construction safety, the most important safety tip must take place before any work begins. Qualified professionals should review the site to identify possible hazards and implement appropriate solutions. As every day progresses, new hazards may arise which workers aren’t familiar with so it’s important that the site is reviewed every day to identify new hazards. In particular, electric circuits should never be in close proximity to scaffolding to prevent electrocution.
- Inspect the Scaffolding Daily
It’s important that scaffolding is inspected and maintained on a daily basis to ensure the structural integrity of the scaffolding remains intact. A qualified professional needs to check that all boards are intact and that all of the components are functional and safe prior to commencing work for the day. Failing to inspect scaffolding regularly can lead to very hazardous conditions which compromise the safety of workers.
- Preparing the Foundations
It may seem like common sense but foundations are very important in construction and work should never be carried out on uneven or unsteady surfaces. The ground on which the scaffolding is based should be as flat as possible. Casters or base plates should always be used along with a 2 x 10 block of wood under each leg to prevent the base from sinking into the soil or hot asphalt. It’s important to note that scaffolding should never be set on masonry or stacks of wood.
- Keep the Workplace Organised
It’s natural for workplaces to get messy sometimes, however it’s essential in construction to avoid any slips, trips, or fall hazards by keeping the worksite organised and arranged. Keeping tools organised is critical as it not only reduces the risk of tools falling from the scaffolding itself, but it also makes it easier for workers to move around the platform. Scaffolding structures are only small, so it’s very easy to trip on any kind of obstruction.
- Ensure all Workers are Trained and Qualified
Under Australian OHS legislation, all construction workers who perform their jobs on or near scaffolding must be appropriately trained and educated in how scaffolding operates. Simple tasks such as getting on and off scaffolding can be dangerous, so it’s necessary that workers are properly trained in all aspects of operating scaffolding equipment, including how to prevent falls and respond to emergency situations. Additionally, workers must always wear safety protection gear, such as hard hats, goggles, non-slip footwear and fall protection equipment. For information of scaffolding training and qualifications, get in touch with Uni-Span by phoning 1300 882 825, or visit their website: http://uni-span.com.au/
- Adhere to Load Capacity Guidelines
One of the most common mistakes with operating scaffolding is workers failing to adhere to the load capacities of each scaffolding platform. Not only are workers putting load on the platform, but working equipment and materials also add significant weight that can be commonly overlooked. Furthermore, different types of scaffolding have different load capacities, so it’s essential to keep note of each scaffolding load capacity to ensure the safety of all the workers on and below the scaffolding.
- Always Use Guardrails
It’s a legal requirement that any scaffolding that is higher than 10 feet must have guardrails on all three sides facing away from the building. Even with these guardrails in place, the side facing the building is still dangerous, so it is advised to have guardrails on all four sides of the platform. Keep in mind though, guardrails should never act as a replacement for fall protection equipment, which must always be worn by workers using scaffolding.