Construction Site Safety: Why Scaffolding Should Not Be Taken for Granted

November 20, 2018

Don't take anything for granted. That's a proverb that serves people well in everyday life. On the construction site, it's more than a saying, it's a way of staying safe. To illustrate this opinion, look at scaffolding systems for a few moments. If we were to assume every strut and cross-member was absolutely secured, an impetuous employee might just take a silly risk he would never normally consider.

Don't Take Scaffolding Safety For Granted

Never lean back on a component that's designed to support the scaffolding tower. Even if it was just inspected, recent damage may have made the component unsafe. Putting himself dangerously off-balance, an at-height employee could tumble over a loosened handrail. Never assume the scaffolding is safe.

Never Assume Safety Mechanisms Are Operational

Wearing a safety harness, the worker clips his lanyard onto a stable section of the tubular scaffolding. That's not a safe practice, and it's not considered standard operating procedure. The harness should be tested regularly, and, even it has been inspected recently, the worker should proceed with caution. It's the same with the component the safety harness is fastened to, so don't ever take a scaffolding beam or rail for granted.

Don't Take Safe Work Heights For Granted

Above 4-metres, fall hazards are known to cause serious bodily injuries. People can die when they fall from a platform that's positioned 4-metres or more above the ground. However, according to some construction site statistics, falls of 3-metres or less have been responsible for major injuries, too. Perhaps the injured party fell head first, he wasn't wearing fall protection, or the ground below was littered with site materials. Don't expect safety guidelines will assure a protective blanket, not when there are many unknown variables in motion on a construction site. More relevantly, don't allow clutter to accumulate around scaffolding.

Obey Competent Persons

No matter how safe, how rigid and sturdy a scaffolding tower seems, only a trained pair of eyes can certify the erected structure as a safety-assured frame, one that has structural integrity and the requisite number of code-specified safety features. That's a tip that applies to the top of the tower, every beam and fastener, all the way down to the ground support system and the underlying soil conditions.

It's not an easy discipline, construction site safety, especially when it's directed at scaffolding. Winds change, soil conditions fluctuate, and different work teams come and go. To keep all of these variables in check, erected scaffolding systems are continually evaluated and re-evaluated. That's a time-consuming activity, but it's also the best way of guaranteeing an accident-free worksite.

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