Top 9 Mistakes to Avoid When Working with Scaffolding

While scaffolding is a vital piece of equipment for various jobs, it can potentially also be one of the more dangerous elements at a worksite if not carefully erected and maintained. In the USA in 2019, over five thousand workers died on the job — the single most common violation of OSHA standards responsible for these fatalities was a lack of sufficient fall protection on the construction site. 

For any construction job to be safe, efficient, and cost-effective, every precaution must be taken to prevent unnecessary deaths or injuries on site. Smart use of scaffolding and good fall protection is the number one way to accomplish that. 

Read on to learn some of the most fundamental safety steps and top mistakes to avoid when using scaffolding on any job.

1. Poor Scaffolding Construction

Probably the most relevant and critical step in ensuring safe use of scaffolding is building it correctly, safely, and up to code. Some of the most common accidents are ultimately due to a failure to correctly affix all attachment points, failure to install the proper bracing needed to keep scaffolding up, and especially, failure to install guardrails. 

2. Inadequate Scaffolding Maintenance 

Similar to the previous point, it’s vital that scaffolding not only be assembled with care and precision it must also be kept in excellent condition throughout its lifetime on a construction site. Over time old scaffolding will need to be replaced and will result in unstable structures or slippery surfaces if left too long.

3. Inadequate Worker Training

Accidents will still occur on a perfectly assembled and maintained scaffold if the workers using it daily don’t know how to do their work safely while on the structure. Worker training, of course, covers fall prevention training, how to work safely on scaffolding, and how to properly construct and maintain it. 

4. Employer or Worker Negligence 

Suppose an employer or foreman fails to provide proper training and oversight when it comes to safe scaffolding usage. In that case, the construction company can be held liable for any accidents that occur on-site. Also, similar to the last point, inexperience in the field of worker negligence can completely undermine any basic training that workers have received. Everyone must remain ethical and vigilant to keep workers safe!

5. Ignoring Safety Standards

If scaffolding is built carefully and correctly, well maintained, and workers are trained in fall prevention, accidents can still easily happen if safe usage standards are ignored by workers or companies. Scaffolding that is overloaded with too much weight, placed on an unstable surface, or too close to a volatile energy source will likely result in accident and injury, even if every other safety measure is being met. 

6. Dangerous Work Environments 

Construction work is almost always done outside, or at the very least, exposed to the elements. Rain, snow, or sleet can make scaffolds incredibly slippery, extreme heat can make it easier for workers to make mistakes, and sudden extreme changes in temperature can weaken attachment points or otherwise compromise the safety of a scaffold. 

7. Unstable Working Surfaces

There are several ways that scaffolding can be set up to provide an unstable or unsafe space to work in. First of all, the planking that workers walk on must be sturdy and reliable, as weak or inadequate planking can easily send workers to a nasty fall. Apart from sufficiently strong planking, the actual base of the scaffold must be securely placed on a firm, even ground. In the case of moving scaffolds that can roll on wheels, the wheels must be properly locked and secured once the structure is in place to avoid the scaffold moving under the workers using it. 

8. Lack of Access to Safety Equipment 

In addition to safety training, it’s critical that workers be provided with all necessary safety equipment. Once again, every element of property safety measure must be adequately put into use to avoid accidents. Even trained workers on well-constructed scaffolding can still suffer falls and accidents if critical safety equipment is not provided or kept where it should be. Once again, companies or owners of construction sites where accidents happen can easily be held legally accountable if safety equipment is not readily distributed. 

9. Falling Objects, Tools, & Debris

Working with scaffolding presents not only the potential for workers to fall and hurt themselves but also the possibility of falling tools or debris striking workers from above, causing severe injury. Falling objects were the second leading cause of worker death in 2017. Tools and other objects must always be secured while high up, and scaffolding should be adequately covered to help prevent items from falling and to keep workers safe from objects that do fall.

Talk to Scaffolding Experts!

At Elephant Construction Solutions, our quality equipment serves professionals and hobbyists alike with high-quality tools and accessories that you’ll need to get the job done right. Located in the Rio Grande Valley, we offer many different options for rent, such as: saws, drills, and many other power tools, professional construction equipment, as well as other machinery, including air compressors, power generators, and even scaffolding. 

Reach out to us at Elephant Construction Solutions to get a free quote for any power tools or machinery you may need for your next job or project. Whether it’s as simple as a lawnmower, as important as scaffolding, or as small as a circular saw, we have the best in high quality products you are looking for.


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