SCAFFOLD SAFETY – DON’T GO UP WITHOUT IT
What are some hazards associated with scaffolds?
Scaffolds are critical for ensuring that we’re able to safely and efficiently perform work on elevated structures or on equipment. They provide temporary working surfaces. But they also need to be built and used correctly, otherwise we risk introducing unintended hazards.
Some of the hazards associated with scaffolds that we need to be aware of include:
- Falls to lower level – if we fail to properly wear personal fall arrest systems when required by the inspection tag or due to the removal of guard rails;
- Falling object hazards – from failure to contain tools and materials during elevated work;
- Weather-related – such as electrical storms, high winds, and snow/ice;
- Scaffold collapse due to overloading or scaffold instability; and
- Electrical hazards from nearby power lines and electric service connections;
These hazards are managed a number of ways. For scaffold users, it starts by checking the inspection tag. Users must be aware of any hazards noted on the tag and any instructions for tying off on ladders and/or scaffold decks.
Each user should also do a quick scan of the scaffold even though it was inspected. Things to check include ensuring that the base is level and secure, that verticals are straight (plumb) and that the load indicator on the Yo-Yo (SRL) snaphook (or on the SRL itself on some models) has not tripped.
Before using the Yo-Yo, the cable can be given a quick tug to ensure it engages.
Users should also note any hazards not related to the scaffold itself such as adjacent low hanging structures at the deck level that create a strike against hazard or hot surfaces that they could contact while working from the scaffold.
Lastly, to prevent falling object hazards, guardrail netting or a regulated area around the scaffold base (or lower levels) may be needed if there is work or traffic below and if objects used or staged on the deck could accidentally fall off.