A scaffold is an incredibly useful tool to have in a construction project. Whether you are doing DIY maintenance of your roof or working on the construction of a high-rise building, chances are you can benefit from scaffolding at different times during the project. Scaffold is easy to build too, plus there are providers that offer scaffolding for different purposes.
Scaffold is meant to provide safety and sufficient support when working on higher surfaces, but that doesn’t mean you can put several scaffolding tubes together and start working immediately. There are a few things you need to understand – some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind – about using scaffold and ensuring safety in construction.
Do: Understand the Capacity
Depending on the design of the scaffold, the scaffolding used to construct the platform, and how it is put together in the first place, scaffolding has different weight capacities. What’s important is that you understand that weight capacity before starting to use the platform.
Exceeding the weight capacity of a scaffold is a big no. Even if the structure seems fine, the scaffolding tubes may not have the strength required to support the excess weight. This could lead to a catastrophic failure of the temporary structure or serious accidents.
Don’t: Use incorrect Scaffolding
Yes, scaffoldings are strong and meant to be used as a support, but it is not actually meant to support the weight of the entire structure. Unfortunately, many workers still use scaffolding designed to support workers as a way to support structural elements of the building, such as a brick wall that needs to be erected.
There are specialised props and scaffolding for specific jobs. If you want to prop up a brick wall, for example, the right tool for the job is Acrow props. Heavy-duty Acrow props from Heaton Products is a good example of props designed specifically for structural support.
The Acrow props from MOAP use outer tubes that are more than 25% bigger. They also come with a weight capacity of 500kg, plus they can be extended without losing structural integrity. By using Acrow props, you can safely work without additional risk lurking around the corner.
Do: Get Licensed
There are certifications for workers who specialise in working on scaffolding. Licensed workers know how to maintain the highest safety standard when working above ground. They also know how to be mindful and stay safe when working underneath or near the scaffolding.
Some of the safety standards to be met are very straightforward. Wearing hard hats when working on the scaffold and using high-visibility jacket are great starting points. Keeping tools and materials organised and knowing how to mitigate common risks are also important. Make sure your workers have the knowledge they need to work safely on a scaffold.
Another common mistake is workers making assumptions about the scaffolds they use. If the scaffold was strong enough yesterday – and it is left in place overnight – it should be strong enough today, shouldn’t it? Well, not really.
Making assumptions is not what you want to do when using scaffolds in a project. Scaffolding tubes are made of metal; it is normal for scaffolding to flex and twist when used and when exposed to the elements. A scaffold that was perfectly fine yesterday still needs to be inspected before being used today.
A regular inspection will also help mitigate other risks such as the risk of guardrails slipping off mounting points or the platform itself not being properly secured. Review everything before and after use and you can reduce the risk of using scaffolds to a minimum.
Do: Use Additional Safety Gear
As mentioned before, safety helmets and hi-vis jackets are still needed when working on scaffolding. There is other essential safety gear to have too. A safety belt or a harness is another must-have for workers that spend a lot of time above the ground. Safety ropes for tools and heavy equipment are also useful for preventing accidents.
Adding proper signs around and on the scaffold is not a step you want to skip either. In many construction projects, workers working near or under the scaffoldings are not always aware that they are; scaffolding tubes are painted red, orange, or blue for the same reason.
Don’t: Make Compromises
It is not okay to support the scaffolding tubes using bricks or rocks; yes, some workers still do this. If the scaffolding is erected on uneven ground, use suitable flexible feet and height-adjustable scaffolding to maintain the structural integrity of the scaffold.
The same can be said for joints and other components supporting the scaffold. Instead of replacing them with unsuitable alternatives like wires, go the extra mile and do things properly. That – combined with the other tips we discussed in this article – is how you maintain safety when working with scaffolding.