Scaffolds are used daily in the construction industry allowing workers to comfortably reach their work. But they also come with the inherent risk of working from heights; falls from scaffolds and scaffold collapse represent two major jobsite concerns. It is because of these dangers that construction managers and workers alike must follow the procedures below… in order to promote a safe work environment.
• Scaffolds must be properly constructed, set up on solid footing and firmly anchored. The scaffold must be designed by a competent person and constructed according to the intended design.
• Scaffolds should be inspected by a competent person before each use. The inspection should include checking the connections, fastening, tie-ins, braces, guardrails and the planking.
• Do not build your own makeshift scaffolds. Use only proper scaffolds that were engineered for the job. Do not swap out parts from different scaffolds; they will not always match up.
• Use a ladder or built-in staircase to access the scaffold, never climb on scaffold supports. Workers working at heights of 10 feet or more must use a fall protection system while working on the scaffolding.
• Never exceed the recommended load limit. • Never move scaffolding while it is in use or occupied. • Do not erect scaffolds within 10 feet of overhead power lines.
• Scaffold platforms should be fully planked with the front edge of the platform within 14 inches the face of the work. This will limit the potential for falling between your work and the scaffold.
• Platforms should extend at least 6 inches over the edge of the frame to prevent movement. They should not extend more than 12 inches beyond the edge to prevent tipping.
• Keep the platforms free of debris. While not in use, keep all tools in your toolbelt, do not lay them on the platform. These practices will help avoid tripping.
• Platform planks must be scaffold grade, and should have not visible signs of defects.
• Platforms must be fully guarded with a toeboard, a midrail half way up, and a top rail. Rails must be able to withstand a 200 pound load.
• Safety netting can be used to catch falling tools and debris, if work is being performed underneath the scaffold.
Following these safety guidelines can help keep you from needlessly suffering a serious scaffolding accident on the jobsite. Take charge, and make sure your volunteers and employees understand, and practice, these safety guidelines.
And remember to always get a signed waiver from all volunteers prior to them working on the jobsite! If you have any questions about this information please call the Habitat for Humanity Affiliate Insurance Program at (888) 553-9002.