A.H. Harris Blog

5 Tips For Staying Safe on Scaffolding

by Jessica Kane

The use of scaffolding can be a great way to keep workers safe while working at heights. When installed and used properly, they can prevent workers from falling and getting seriously hurt or killed. Let's take a look at some of the best ways to use scaffolding safely in our latest guest blog post, "5 Tips For Staying Safe on Scaffolding". Enjoy and stay safe.

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A Guardrail System Should Be Implemented 

Guardrail systems prevent workers from falling off the sides of a scaffolding platform. They are generally required when a worker is more than two or three feet off of the ground. However, it may be a good idea to use one regardless of how far from the ground a worker is doing his or her job. 

Guardrails should be strong enough to withstand a person leaning or falling against them without breaking or becoming loose. Ideally, they will be able to withstand hundreds of pounds of constant pressure without breaking or compromising their structural integrity. They should also be able to withstand strong winds or other moderate to severe temporary weather conditions. 

Scaffolding Platforms Should Be Free From Slipping Hazards

Scaffolding platforms should be constructed on a flat surface or otherwise constructed to provide a flat and sturdy walking surface. They should be kept as dry as possible at all times to avoid potential slip and fall accidents. In some cases, shoes with special soles may be necessary to prevent slipping or to keep workers from losing their balance. 

It may also be a good idea to use a fall harness system to keep workers upright at all times. OSHA has regulations related to how scaffolding systems should be constructed as well as how large a platform can be. You can either check OSHA regulations or talk to your employer if you think that a scaffolding platform does not meet regulations or may otherwise put your safety in jeopardy. 

Report Hazards to Supervisors Immediately 

If you notice any potential safety hazard while working on scaffolding, tell your boss right away. OSHA requires that job sites and equipment used on a job site be inspected on a daily basis. This means that your supervisor has an obligation to investigate any issues that you bring to his or her attention. 

In the event that you don't feel like a problem has been investigated properly, you should refuse to work until it has been resolved to your satisfaction. Depending on your level of experience, you may also be able to make adjustments that may reduce or eliminate the risk of a given hazard. However, make sure that any fixes that you make are done with management approval and stay within OSHA guidelines. 

Keep Tools and Other Equipment Organized

By keeping your tools close by, you reduce the odds that you will slip or trip over them while walking on a scaffolding platform. It may also reduce the odds that you will hurt yourself because you had to reach too far or bend over repeatedly to pick up an object. 

Keeping tools either on your person or in a dedicated area close by may also reduce the risk of objects falling and hitting workers below. Although those who work on scaffolding or below such a platform may be wearing hard hats or other falling object protection equipment, the easiest way to prevent injuries is to keep objects from falling whenever possible. 

Don't Use Scaffolds Unless You Have Proper Training

One of the easiest ways to get hurt while using any type of equipment is to use it without proper training. If you aren't sure what you are doing, ask to work with a more experienced employee until you are comfortable working on your own. OSHA may also require that employees be given radios to communicate with managers or others on the ground. 

Companies may also be required to check in with workers periodically to make sure that they are alright. Training materials should be available to you upon request, and OSHA generally requires proof of proper training and safety protocols for everyone on a job site. Therefore, don't feel as if you have to walk on a scaffold if you don't feel comfortable doing so.

Your top priority is to stay safe on the job. This means making sure that you reduce your risk of slipping, falling or being hit by other objects on a job site. While OSHA sets guidelines for how scaffolding and other equipment must be used, it is ultimately your responsibility to look out for yourself and for others while working.


Jessica Kane is a writer for OSHA Campus Online, a provider of affordable online OSHA training courses that are accepted nationwide.


Thank you for your contribution to our blog, Jessica. If your organization is also interested in guest blogging with Harris, please contact us with construction industry relevant content that's valuable to our audience. As always, we are looking forward to your comments and questions. For more information on construction safety products, visit any of our 50+ stores or our website.

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