Five Tips for Staying Safe While Working on Scaffolding
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the leading cause for workplace injuries is workers falling from ladder scaffolding, scissor lifts, or other high locations. Even when working with the best equipment, scaffolding can be deadly if utmost safety precautions aren’t followed.
In order to ensure that all of the workers on the job site are safe while working on and around scaffolding or scissor lifts, please make sure to take the following safety precautions:
- Work smart, not fast.
We know that meeting schedule deadlines is often a key metric in achieving goals and staying on budget. However, if employees are rushed to get the work done, they are more likely to take shortcuts or miss key steps in the building process. Most often the factors that are overlooked are safety measures, which results in workplace accidents. When your workers are putting themselves in a vulnerable position by working in high places, they cannot afford the added risk of rushing on the job.
Instead, focus on meeting deadlines by identifying areas of efficiency. If the workplace is well organized, and areas of inefficiency are corrected, the work will be accomplished quickly and safely!
- Be intentional about the placement of tools and supplies.
When working on scaffolding, the more frequently that workers have to go up and down to get tools and supplies, the more at risk they are to be injured. When setting up the job site, focus on being organized and place the equipment that your workers will need most in an accessible location.
- Be cognizant of any potential hazards.
Most workplace injuries are a result of an unexpected hazard that workers aren’t properly prepared for. Before starting the job, identify any potential hazards and make plans to protect the employees from each of them. When erecting scaffolding, look for power lines or obstructions that could lead to injury. If the structure has to be moved at any point in the course of the project, plan the process out before setting it up at all.
While we’re on the subject, creating a work culture that welcomes safety input is a critical part of creating a safe environment. When a worker identifies a situation that makes them feel unsafe at the work site, it should be taken seriously and rectified immediately. The workers who are “in the trenches” have more of an idea of what the work entails and potential safety issues than any planners or supervisors. Creating a work environment where everyone feels valued and heard when identifying safety hazards is an important piece in creating a safe workplace.
- Invest in training.
User errors are the most common source for equipment failure, and one of the most common reasons an employee is injured on the job. Making sure that every person on the work site has proper scaffold and scissor lift training is important for keeping everyone safe. OSHA has certain training requirements that every employee is supposed to go through, and training should be refreshed regularly in order to stay in compliance (and to keep the workplace safe).
- Do not become complacent.
Even when you start the job out by making safety a priority, as the work goes on for months or years, it is only natural to grow accustomed to the environment and grow lax on the job. When workers get less focused on maintaining safety above all else, they become more at risk for being injured, especially with particularly hazardous equipment like aluminum scaffolding.
In order to maintain an attitude that makes safety the greatest priority on the job site, make it a habit to discuss it. Many work sites have safety meetings at the beginning of each shift, where a particular aspect of safety is discussed, and workers can bring up any hazards they’ve come across.
Another OSHA recommendation to keep the topic of safety at the forefront of everyone’s focus is to have workers read through a safety checklist prior to beginning each shift. Even if everything seems exactly the same, by inspecting the job site before beginning work, any potential hazards will be recognized.
Do you have any other safety tips while working with scaffolding? Please share in the comment section below!