Did you know that falling is one of the most common types of workplace injuries? Most commonly, the falls were a result of improper equipment. Workers were trying to reach a high place on a ladder or stacking objects on top of each other, when they should have been using aluminum scaffold systems. However, even when the proper aluminum scaffold system is used, there is still room for injury if not used properly.
To avoid a fall injury while using a aluminum scaffold system, pay attention to our list of safety tips.
Five Important Safety Tips While Using Aluminum Scaffold Systems
- Move your scaffold properly.
Since scaffold plans and components involve many large and heavy pieces, a large part of the danger comes from the scaffold when it isn’t even in place.
Whether you use scaffold rentals, or just have to relocate the scaffold you own, you should always make sure you follow the proper protocol. Make sure that the scaffold frame and planks are lying flat on the bed of your truck, rather than being propped up over the cab of it. This provides the greatest security, and prevents if from becoming unstable in the wind or if you drive over a bumpy road.
If the frame of your scaffolding extends beyond the end of your truck bed, make sure you tie it down, and attach a red flag to the end of the frame, to warn other drivers of the extended frame.
- Start with a stable foundation.
Your scaffolding system is only as strong as the foundation it sits on. If you set your scaffold up on dirt or an unstable foundation, the entire structure is unstable. Make sure you set your scaffolding up on solid ground, to protect the integrity of the stability. If you are working on a dirt area, lay plywood down to create a stable foundation. It’s a good idea to use base supports or cinder blocks to reinforce the foundation as well.
- Set up your scaffolding safely.
Whether you are setting up your scaffolding by yourself, or in a team, there is a proper way to install it, to ensure adequate stability, and to prevent anyone from being hurt during setup. For example, start with the base jacks before you set anything else up. This will help you avoid having to lift the whole system up to get it into the base later, which could cause an injury. You should also install the cross braces as you go, to give the scaffolding support as you work higher. Additional installation instructions will be provided by the manufacturer of the scaffold, as there might be slight differences in the components of the scaffolding.
- Whenever possible, incorporate a guardrail into the setup.
We know that sometimes space limitations prevent you from incorporating a guardrail into your scaffolding setup. However, if it is possible, you should try to ensure there is a guardrail. Without a guardrail, a worker could unintentionally step off the side and fall.
Sometimes people assume that they don’t need a guardrail if they have a safety harness attaching them to the scaffolding. This is inaccurate, as falling off scaffolding with a safety hazard because it could through off the balance of the entire structure and knock the entire thing over. Simply installing a guardrail is a good insurance policy to prevent falls at all.
- Maintain a “Three points of contact” policy while workers climb the scaffold structure.
The safest way to climb any ladder is by ensuring that you always have three points of contact on it. You have four possible limbs that could be in contact in touch with the scaffold at any point in time: your two arms and two legs. Your workers should make certain to always have at least three of their limbs in contact with the scaffolding as they climb. This provides the greatest stability and prevents slipping and falling while they climb up.
While we’re on the subject of climbing the scaffolding, your workers should only ever climb the scaffold from the designated sides where the ladders are. It might feel convenient to hop up the diagonal cross beams on the side, but this is incredibly dangerous, as it throws off the point of weight that the scaffold is supporting, causing it to fall over.
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