A scaffold is a temporary structure that is created to provide access or work platforms. Scaffolds are frequently used in construction work to provide workers with a safe, solid work platform when work cannot be done at ground level or on a finished floor. Scaffolding refers to the different components, such as tubes, couplers, or frames, and materials that, when put together, constitute a scaffold. Under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act, scaffolding is defined as a plant.

Because of the nature of scaffolding work and the potential dangers, there are a number of points that must be considered at all times in order to preserve safety for both workers and others in the surrounding areas. Using a health and safety checklist ensures that nothing is overlooked and that all hazards are controlled. These are some examples:

  • Preventing fall

  • Falls and slips

  • Collapses

  • Electrocution

  • Getting hit by falling things

  • Weather Effects Ground Conditions

  • Guards and handrails

Regardless of the type of construction project you oversee, these safety rules should still be relevant and applicable to your sites and operations.

Inspect your scaffold properly, and frequently

On far too many construction sites, scaffolding is correctly erected and deemed ‘complete’ for the duration of the job. Scaffolding, like most things in the construction business, must be examined during the life of the project to verify its integrity and safety. Hundreds of moving parts and workers, as well as vibrations and disturbances in the site environment, can readily move or change scaffold. Inspections must be performed correctly (using an inspection structure like the one shown below) and at regular intervals for scaffolding safety.

Ensure people are scaffolding safety trained

It’s common for workers to believe that scaling and working on scaffolding is simple. However, ensuring that personnel are adequately trained in scaffolding safety is critical for their personal safety. Scaffolding safety training should include the following elements:

  • Detection of possible electrocution

  • Dangers of falling objects

  • Getting on and off the scaffolding

  • How to recognize hazards

Build a stable base and monitor the load

One of the inherent risks of scaffold is that the surfaces it is used on and on are frequently uneven and, in some cases, soft (sand etc.). Scaffold frames are designed to be used with casters or base plates, thus utilize these items to ensure a stable basis.

Be mindful of what’s above and below you at all times

Encourage yourself and your coworkers to be mindful at all times while working on and near scaffolding. Even though everyone is wearing PPE and hardhats, it’s critical to keep an eye on what’s going on from above.

It’s also critical to keep an eye on what’s going on down below. Being aware of falling object hazards especially where there are large crowds or frequent walk-ways helps to reduce the likelihood of falling object accidents.

Stay on top of scaffold safety documentation

This scaffold safety advice follows on from the inspection safety tip, and it entails better maintaining all of your safety documentation. Even if you execute all of your inspections correctly, you still require a reliable and secure method of knowing when the inspections were performed, the results of those inspections, and when additional checks are required.

Don’t use the scaffold as your ladder

Another obvious one, but one that is commonly forgotten or neglected, is not to use scaffold (or anything other than an appropriate ladder) to access the scaffold. Although scaffold makes for an impressive and entertaining climbing frame, climbing on the outside of a towering and potentially unstable platform is not safe. Make sure workers have easy access to scaffold ladders, and that if they are constantly working in one place, there is a ladder nearby to avoid the temptation of utilizing the scaffold as a monkey gym.

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